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friendship at soccer camp

The other day, a welcome view of Canada, on a soccer field. I went on Thursday to get the boys from their free day camp, get them home, make them pasta, and take them to their soccer games. Anna calls it Jesus Soccer and I found out why — it’s also free, sponsored by a local evangelical. When the kids gathered in a circle at halftime, I thought they were discussing soccer moves, but no, they’re learning about Jesus. Anna says her kids, and the many Muslim kids playing, don’t mind and don’t hear.

But what a sight. Parkdale is poor, with a huge percentage of immigrants; every second person near Anna’s house is a Tibetan named Tensing. The field was a sea of children of all sizes and colours. It was chaos, until it wasn’t; eventually, the teams became clear. Ben played at 6 and Eli with the bigger kids at 7. There was an indeterminate number on each team, but it didn’t matter, what was important was running wildly and kicking the ball east or west. Parents sat on the sidelines screaming encouragement and chatting in many languages. I sat on the camp chair we’d brought beside Anna’s dear friend Charlene, a First Nations grandmother in a power wheelchair who, when her daughter and grandchildren arrived, got big takeout containers of Chinese food out of a bag. The adults and baby sat eating while the kids played.

Is there a country in the world that has effected immigration as well as Canada? We have huge problems – of homelessness, racism, of qualified people not being able to work in their chosen fields. But we do not have immigrant ghettos like in France. My own ‘hood, and especially Anna’s, are a fluidly mixed bag. And, mostly, it works. On the children’s soccer field, it was spectacular.

Anna arrived, we went home, buying ice cream on the way. At her house, a tiny thing: the humble spoon rest, adorned with mushrooms, on her stove. It was my mother’s. When I see it, and a few other things she inherited, I am in my mother’s kitchen and my daughter’s, simultaneously.

Last night on TCM, I watched Almost Famous, that I’ve wanted to see for years. What a wonderful film, great performances, Frances McDormand at her eccentric best. Highly recommended. Tension and stress continues, however, a difficult situation I am caught in. Stay tuned.

Another photo of Jean-Marc and me riding Olivia in. She has set a feisty tone already. Great news for our city. And yesterday at the market – zinneas!

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4 Responses to “friendship at soccer camp”

  1. Theresa says:

    Love the soccer…

  2. Beth Kaplan says:

    It was a wonderful scene, Theresa. Despite our many problems, it made me proud of Canada.

  3. Alan Millen says:

    Hi Beth. Your soccer day report was a wonderful read. It brought to mind my own days playing in Nanaimo 1964-70. Not quite as ethnically mixed then, but still a rich blend of backgrounds. I remember my Dad coaching a men’s team that included various European immigrants and two First Nations players. Somewhere in my archives is a poem I wrote in the early 80s about that memory. Off the top of my head, the only line I can recall is “the song of the referee’s whistle”. After we came to Switzerland, my son played for several years with Swiss and other European kids. He was certainly the only player born in Canada. Thanks for jogging those fun memories.

  4. Beth Kaplan says:

    Glad to jog your Canadian memories, Alan.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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