Whitecaps FC Community Asset Review – Part 5

Editors’ note: Kurt and John are firm believers that Vancouver can and should be the Canadian epicenter for growing the sport and culture of soccer football soccer. This is a self-described healthy community. We can play outside year-round, as fields are rarely closed due to snow and/or freezing. And, most importantly, Vancouver is the place to expertly develop the sport of soccer because our city’s team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, shares this goal and so demonstrates this vision through its Club Structure and the Whitecaps Foundation, which aims to create the fittest generation of BC Youth by 2020.

As Vancouver Whitecaps FC season ticket holders, Kurt and John are well-positioned to evaluate how the franchise showcases its commitment to “be a significant community asset” – so, following every match we will reflect on this commitment by answering two questions, which are below. Sometimes we bring friends and/or family-members to the game. And sometimes those awesome friends and/or family-members write awesome blog posts about the experience.

Yesterday’s match was a 3-1 victory for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

HOW IS THE CLUB A SIGNIFICANT COMMUNITY ASSET?

Vancouver Whitecaps FC embraces the diversity of its community. The club fields players from 17 different countries, which is the most in the MLS (Seattle Sounders FC are second best, with players from 15 countries) – in fact, the ‘Caps might be the most culturally diverse team in professional sports in the world. The The Vancouver Sun’s Yvonne Zacharias wrote a great piece about the challenges of executing high level soccer performance when such a multicultural team is asked to communicate effectively with each other in the seven different languages that the players speak.

Diversity makes the club a significant community asset because it’s a rare thing for professional sports teams to reflect the community in which they play – sure, it’s not an exact reflection, but you get the idea. Our world is going to become more, not less, diverse in the years to come, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC is already showing how effectively diverse communities work to achieve goals.

Speaking of goals, yesterday the ‘Caps scored three goals and Houston Dynamo only scored one goal.

One of the many possible Whitecap Fusion dishes / vxla’s photostream on Flickr

WHAT COULD THE CLUB DO TO BE EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANT?

With such a diverse team made up of players from so many countries and cultures I immediately thought of food – I’m also hungry, but this doesn’t make my idea any less awesome.

In order to be an even more significant community asset, Vancouver Whitecaps FC should serve – at games or via a superawesome Whitecaps Food Truck (©Copyright John Horn 2012) – dishes from players’ home countries. Not only would this idea celebrate the club’s diversity, but it would also be very, very tasty, especially if some of the city’s best culinary minds explore how to deliciously fuse some of the dishes (e.g. salt fish kimchi crepes?!) into amazingly unique Whitecaps creations.

moriza’s photostream on Flickr

Here are some of the potential menu items:

So there it is. My latest idea regarding how Vancouver Whitecaps FC can be an even more significant community asset. No need to thank me, Bob, John, Tom, et al – I share these gems because I’m a fan. And, for the record, I would absolutely eat a haggis empanada with some fufu poutine any day of the week…

Play Dates, Imaginary Friends, and Getting Lost in the Woods: The Diversity of Play

Glimpses of summer these past few weeks spawned a conversation with my husband (and Daily Gumboot Editor-in-Chief John Horn) recently about our childhoods – what did we do in the summers? How did we play? Which one of us was more likely to run away into the surrounding woods and get lost? (I’m sure you can guess the answer to that one!). We discovered that although there were some similarities to our play, the different environments that we grew up in very much influenced the type of play we engaged in. For instance, John grew up in a rural environment, and I grew up in a semi-urban (okay, fine, suburban) neighbourhood. Not surprisingly, John spent more time freely exploring the wooded areas around his house, while I spent more time in backyards and a (now that I think back to it) fairly sketchy vacant lot up the street. Another difference we discussed was who we played with – because there weren’t a lot of other kids around, John spend a lot of time playing with his sister, or with his imaginary friend named Sparky*, while I played with a larger group of kids from the neighbourhood and school.

An article recently published in the BC Council for Families magazine, Family Connections, explored this concept of play across environments and cultures, and found that environments and cultures do indeed have a very large influence on play. These findings touched on some of the key differences John and I had explored – for example, one large factor that can lead to differences in play include whether there are other play partners around (neighbours, cousins, siblings, friends), and how safe it is to run freely around the neighbourhood.

Some interesting cultural differences were also explored within the article. For example, in Western society, it is emphasized that parents should devote time to play with their children, while in other cultures, the extended family plays a much larger role in playing with children than the parents. The idea of having structured play (e.g. sitting down to finish an art activity, like making a bracelet or using toys with numbers/letters) vs. free play (e.g. children engaging in pretend play, like playing kitchen) is also something that varies across – and within – cultures.

With the even-diversifying cultural landscape we find ourselves living within, these different approaches to play can lead to some interesting learnings, creativity and flexibility – but hey, isn’t that what play should be all about anyway?

*John may or may not have had an imaginary friend named Sparky.