Edmonton Free Footie program creates Treaty Six soccer ball
Free Footie program will handout 1,300 of the balls to youth in the program
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When Edmonton kids take to the soccer field this summer, the ball they will be kicking around will tell a story about the people who lived on the land long before them.
Free Footie, a charity offering free soccer to kids who would otherwise not be able to play, has designed a Treaty Six ball that is meant to recognize the city’s Indigenous history.
Founder Tim Adams, said all of the 1,300 kids who participate get a free ball and he saw an opportunity.
“I have always wanted to use the ball as something more than just something to pass or shoot."
Dawn Marie Marchand, an indigenous artist who created the design on the ball said she was delighted to work on a project.
“This is teaching young people when they are first coming here, about who is here. Learning about their neighbours,” she said.
The ball references the flag of Treaty Six and has 13 horses each with a symbol representing one of the Indigenous groups that have territory or connections to the city.
“This place has always been a place where nations come together,” she said.
Adams said the program is meant to bring youth together and teach them about community, mentorship and being a leader.
“Quite frankly the soccer portion of what we do is just the carrot,” he said.
He said the having the ball tell a story about local history advances that broader goal.
“This is just another way to do that, to connect kids to their community,” he said. “I think going forward every year we will try to teach a new lesson with the ball.”
All 1,300 of the balls were provided by ATB Financial and an additional 100 will be available for sale as a small fundraiser for the group.