Free Footie is a totally free, co-ed after school soccer league for kids in the highest needs neighbourhoods of Edmonton - kids who have barriers to the "regular" leagues.
With Free Footie, every kid is free to play.
There are currently more than 1,320 kids, 88 teams, 44 schools and more than 300 volunteers and sponsors involved in Free Footie.
REACH Edmonton works as the backbone supporter of Free Footie.
The Free Footie Story
It began with a group of kids kicking around a soccer ball at an inner-city high school. Tim Adams was on site doing a story for CBC radio and he stopped to watch. The kids had a lot of enthusiasm but no structure - nobody to give them the guidance and support that many other kids get to develop their skills. The principal noticed his interest and invited him to start a team.
This was a very high-needs school, and many of the kids had horrific life stories. They all had one thing in common - all of them wanted to play. All they needed was a role model and some support.
It wasn't long until the younger ones wanted to get involved - the little siblings who were watching from the sidelines. Tim formed a soccer team for these youngsters and gave them coaching, but they needed someone to play against. So, he went to other schools in the inner-city neighbourhood and got three more teams organized. And so, Free Footie was born.
Free to Play
Free Footie ensures that any kid in Grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 who attend schools in the areas the group serve and wants to play soccer, can. There are no registration fees and every child is given a pair of shin pads, soccer socks, shorts and a jersey.
Free Footie is a program that takes place right after classes, and games are usually scheduled so teams play against teams from schools right in their neighbourhoods, so access and transportation issues are minimized.
Free to Grow
For many kids, this is an opportunity to get relief from often-stressful home situations, to get off the streets and go onto a playing field where their energy and ambitions can be directed in positive ways.
Free Footie teaches them about teamwork and sportsmanship. The league runs through the schools, but it is not run by the schools. Schools are the best place to deliver programming to high needs kids, but they are busy.
Free Footie is run entirely by volunteers and supported by sponsor-partners and individual donors. There are no administrative costs - every cent of every dollar contributed goes directly to the kids.