By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Organized sport can be expensive.
According to a 2016 Sport Resource Information Centre (SIRC) article, the most significant barrier for kids developing in sports was cost. This results in limiting the pool of athletes to those who can afford to play.
Whether it’s soccer, hockey, gymnastics, or swimming – fees exist to get your kid in the door. And as they get better and progress through the performance pathway, the additional equipment, fees, and travel costs can start to add up.
Support for Sport
For Winnipeg mom Shar Pajak, paying soccer fees for her daughter, Haven, was something she wanted to make work. Although it wasn’t always easy.
“I have one more year until I’m considered cancer-free and I’m a single mom, so it is really, really hard,” said Shar.
A parent on her daughter’s team mentioned KidSport, a charity that pays for registration fees for kids under 18 to play a season of sport.
Shar realized there was support out there for parents and caregivers who want to give their kids the experience and benefits of sport.
Pursuing A Soccer Dream
Haven’s role model and the person who motivated her to start playing soccer is none other than soccer legend Desiree Scott.
“I met her my first year of club season,” said Haven. “I just feel like she’s a very powerful woman.”
Shar accessed KidSport funding for Haven to play for Winnipeg Phoenix Football Club (WPFC). Today, the 16-year-old has a full schedule between fitness training, practices, and games each week, with out-of-province team trips, too.
“I really like improving and just everything that comes with soccer. I just love the game.”
Unity in Community
In so many ways, sport is not just about competition. It facilitates experiences that shape people, sometimes for the rest of their life.
“The confidence, the life lessons she’s learning from playing the sport…” said Shar. “The learn-to- live-in-unity [of it] is an amazing thing and this team has brought that. This team has brought her unity. It has brought these girls unconditional love. Non-judgement. Encouragement. That is the biggest thing that any child needs nowadays, is that.”
Haven adds she’s gained a real connection to others through playing soccer.
“It brings the whole family thing. Even my coaches, I feel like I’ve gained a real bond with them. And then even the girls I play against. I know we’re against each other, but we’re still nice,” said Haven.
Soccer, like all sports, also provides an opportunity to learn about losing. Shar believes this is important.
“When it comes down to it, yeah winning looks pleasing. But what’s the life lesson we’re learning here? I mean, if we win, win, win all the time… have we won? Or, does it take hard work to learn those life lessons? And that’s beyond the physical eye.”
The Gift of Sport
How does Shar feel when she watches her daughter play?
“As a mother, any mother to any child, that’s kind of tough to answer in words, as it’s my heart that speaks with that. But, in words? Like she’s flying. Like she can get off the ground and fly.”
For many families across the province, cost is a significant barrier when it comes to putting their child in a sport they love.
KidSport can help support youth access to sport—and all the emotional, social, and mental benefits that come with it—so all kids can play.
“KidSport has given my daughter and myself, and all of our chosen family within this sport, wings to fly. If it wasn’t for KidSport, we would be running on the ground and falling a lot on our faces, which is okay – but it would have been a lot harder if it wasn’t for KidSport being in our life.”
KidSport Manitoba can provide funding assistance of up to $500 per child per year to help with sport registration fees through a confidential application process.
Learn more about eligibility and apply here. The application deadline for all regions is the 15th – or the last working day prior to the 15th of every month by 4:30 p.m.