Hockey is Canada’s game with a built in history and international competitiveness that is difficult for other sports to match. However, soccer is fast becoming the sport of choice for the next generation of athletes. According to Soccer Canada, soccer is the most played sport for children between age 5 and 14 in the country. In 1998, 32 per cent of boys and girls participating in sports were playing soccer. By 2010, that number jumped to 42 per cent and getting stronger every year.
With Brampton’s large and diverse immigrant population, the rise of soccer as a team sport is not surprising. Many residents come from places around the world where sports like soccer (football) and cricket are far more accessible. The increasing cost for ice time, equipment and travel to play hockey, especially at a competitive level is certainly a barrier to entry. Artificial and domed surfaces in the Region are also making soccer a year round sport.
The rise in Soccer’s popularity can also be traced to the recent success of the Toronto F.C., the great showing by the Canadian women’s Team in successive Olympics, and right here in Brampton, by our own National Champions, the Brampton East Blades.
The Brampton East Blades won the Under 14 National Championship in 2016, held in Moncton, New Brunswick. Brampton Focus had the pleasure to speak with their Coach, Hedi Othman, several of his talented players, as well as the Manager, Janet Othman about the financial, logistical and training challenges that they faced in becoming the Under 14 National Champions.