A much greater interest in football (soccer) than I’ve ever had before overtook me during this year’s FIFA World Cup. For the first time, I really saw what the ruckus was all about, and saw, despite the divisiveness that can be born from competition, how the communal enjoyment of sport can be a unifying force. That being said, it shouldn’t surprise you that I’d draw your attention to this story from the Baha’i World News Service!
KINGCOME INLET, Canada, 19 September 2006 (BWNS) — It’s not often the players on opposite sides of a soccer team huddle together for prayers before a game.
But neither is it common for outsiders to play in a soccer league that is otherwise composed entirely of Native Canadians.
The Twin Arrows soccer team, made up of young Baha’is from the cities of Victoria, Nanaimo, and Vancouver in British Columbia on Canada’s West Coast recently wrapped up its fifth season playing in a regional soccer league here, which is otherwise made up entirely of First Nations peoples — one of the indigenous communities here.
Established in 1958, the league is composed of teams representing various tribal communities in and around Queen Charlotte Strait, on the northern end of Vancouver Island and also on the mainland.
The Baha’is were invited to join the league in 2002 and since then have managed to fit in well into a league that is as much about community fellowship as it is about high-energy soccer.
“The purpose for our participation is really to build bridges between our two communities,” said Sebastian Titone, 25, a Baha’i from Nanaimo, who is the team captain and head coach of the Twin Arrows. “In Canada, you generally find the native communities on one side and the white/European communities on the other.
“But as Baha’is, we talk about all of us being one people. So we try to be part of cultural events and to make exchanges of friendship. And soccer is really a big part of First Nations community life, and it is one way to engage in community bridging,” said Mr. Titone.