All sports heroes started out as kids

Did you get caught up in the thrill of Beckhamania last Tuesday evening at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton? The Los Angeles Galaxy lured this talented young man away from the mega successful Manchester United Soccer franchise last summer for a meager $250,000,000

Did you get caught up in the thrill of Beckhamania last Tuesday evening at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton? The Los Angeles Galaxy lured this talented young man away from the mega successful Manchester United Soccer franchise last summer for a meager $250,000,000

David Beckham’s presence would not only be a big plus to the team on the field, it would also hopefully bring a powerful resurgence into the North American Soccer scene. Is he as good as Pele or Ronaldo? Only time will tell, but his glitzy marriage to Posh Spice and his likeable nature both on and off the field have made him an instant star in a city full of very big stars.

If last Tuesday night in the City of Champions was any indication, David Beckham could very well be the ultimate soccer saviour. Close to 40,000 fanatics paid up to $90 a ticket to watch a ‘friendly game’ between the Galaxy and the Vancouver Whitecaps, who by the way won 2-1. My point…. I certainly hope that the promoters gave lots of thrilled youngsters the opportunity to see their heroes play, or maybe even sign some autographs? Hopefully some of the profits from that game will be going to Minor Soccer organizations, not only in Edmonton, but also throughout the province to support their programs?

As long as there is a game on somewhere, millions of children and adults, you and me included will continue to cheer for and idolize our teams and super heroes, no matter what sport they play. Unfortunately, both in the past and even more nowadays there are thousands of kids whose parents can’t always afford to take them to the games, or sadly to purchase the equipment or pay the fees of the sport or activity they would choose to play.

Of course the most important priorities for our children is for them to receive a proper education, but it is also nice if they can also have a little extra fun while growing up. If you will allow me to get a little melancholy, I will never forget our countless hours on the outdoor rink with hand-me-down skates, a stick held together by wire and tape, Eaton’s catalogues for goal pads, one puck for the whole neighbourhood and a gunnysack for an equipment bag.

Our gang would all combine our Christmas and birthday gifts; which might include a soccer ball, football, baseball bat, tennis racket, or some-ones discarded golf clubs and a few old balls to organize our pick-up games. Mom’s discarded clothes line was the volleyball and badminton net, and a tattered ball glove bought for two bits at an auction or found in a box in the garage, had no padding, but worked just fine with a regular glove or sock stuffed inside.

It was great to take part in school sports, as well as maybe even joining the minor ball, hockey, or soccer leagues. The most absolute treat of those younger years was getting that first sweater or cap, which most of us wore to bed. I really admire those businesses, clubs, and organizations who sponsor sports teams; the minor organizations who host used equipment sales or swaps each season; and those hundreds of super volunteers who offer the coaching and leadership that is vital for each and every sport. It’s also great to see players, parents and fans getting involved in bottle drives and fundraisers to help keep the costs of traveling and seasonal fees and expenses down.

I also salute the golf courses, Curling Club, and many other sports organizations that offer family rates and lessons to encourage the participation of the younger set and all the way up to seniors. Hopefully more of the professional teams will use some of their vast profits to keep admission prices down so that youngsters (who are their future fans and players) and families can get out to enjoy the games.

How can we help we help the cause? Continue to go to games and cheer, support their fundraisers, or volunteer to help out. If you have an old glove, set of golf clubs, tennis racket or whatever that you don’t use any more; please pass it on to someone else who can, or to a team that could use that equipment; or simply put it in the closest garage sale so someone may find the treasure. Of course the chance of reaching the lofty status of a Gretzky or a Beckham might be slim, but giving our youngsters the opportunity to play and be a member of a team or club will serve to provide hours of healthful exercise and fun as well as providing memories and mementos for a lifetime. It shouldn’t have to be a dream that is out of reach because the price is to high, and thanks to all of those for the understanding and generosity that has allowed them all to play and made a few minor miracles possible. Have a great week, all of you.