News / Calgary

Kids kicking it for 15 years at Kiwanis Diversity Cup

Diversity Cup teaches youth important life skills.

Sim Lakhyan helped to co-ordinate the 34 teams that played in this year’s Diversity Cup tournament at Calgary’s Forest Lawn Athletic Park.

Aaron Chatha / Metro

Sim Lakhyan helped to co-ordinate the 34 teams that played in this year’s Diversity Cup tournament at Calgary’s Forest Lawn Athletic Park.

The Kiwanis Diversity Cup is celebrating 15 years of black, blue and hope.

The annual children’s soccer tournament, in partnership with Kiwanis Calgary, Kidsport and the Calgary Police Service Diversity Resource Team, brings out 800 kids to play in a two-day tournament every year.

This year it ran over the weekend at Forest Lawn Athletic Park. Dedicated players even braved Saturday’s harsh rains, with only a few game cancellations.

The goal of the tournament is to teach kids important life skills. Many of the youth do not ordinarily have an opportunity to play organized sports and the tournament gives many of them their first experience playing in a large-scale tournament with referees, good equipment and a proper field.

“Some of these kids have never been on a team before, never played organized sports,” said tournament co-ordinator Sim Lakhyan. “This is the first time they’ve been able to be in this type of environment.”

Lakhyan explained that the tournament hinges on three values: leadership, respect and teamwork. The teams that exemplify those values are awarded special banners.

“We’re hoping they learn these three skills and they can take that with them through life. To give them a good foundation,” Lakhyan said.

After the tournament, the kids get to take home the gear they used over the weekend, so they can keep practising their skills at home. That includes shin guards, jerseys and soccer balls.

“Sport is such a unifying thing and events like this are a great way for people in the community to connect with their neighbours,” said Const. Kelly Mergen, with the Calgary Police Service Diversity Resource Unit. “It’s also nice for us to have a full weekend to interact with the kids and families in a way that shows them police officers are just normal people who enjoy the same activities as they do.”

This year members of the United Women Soccer league also visited schools to teach kids about soccer, and the importance of an education.

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