Sports

Richmond FC kicking off free football

By Don Fennell

Published 3:30 PDT, Fri July 30, 2021

Last Updated: 3:11 PDT, Thu August 19, 2021

New youth program expands the reach of the ’beautiful game’

Suiting up in both the Champions and Premier leagues, Marius Roevde reached the pinnacle of European football. But he’s never forgotten where it all started.

Maintaining that he had limited talent and was the “classic grassroots player” growing up in Norway, Roevde is now executive director of the Richmond Football Club where the former keeper is only too pleased to see the local youth soccer association kicking off its 2021-22 campaign with the introduction of a program that focuses on extending the reach of the “beautiful game.”

With the financial backing of Coho Commissary (which provides commissary kitchens to restaurant startups), free soccer will be made available to families registered in the Richmond Food Bank program.

“We always wanted to start an academy (for boys and girls) that have had a tough time, and we have worked closely with Richmond Food Bank (collecting donations) for the last 16 months,” says Roevde, noting that in Coho they also landed the perfect partner.

“I was introduced to Coho Commissary by Bryan Wevers, from the same family that was donating $200,000 in scholarships to girls signing up for RFC programs,” he explains. “We loved what they are doing and (equally) they loved how much RFC cares about the community. Together we can help more people on more levels than just soccer.”

Coho will cover the costs of the player jerseys (which will sport the commissary’s logo) and coaching as well as the food for the youth to take home afterwards. Richmond FC is also working with the City of Richmond to offset field costs. During the COVID-19 restrictions, Roevde headed a club initiative to support the food bank that saw trucks literally overflowing with donations.

More than 300 families are registered with the food bank, and Roevde hopes to reach as many of them as possible.

“We want to grow this program. Community outreach is one of our most important pillars. We want to be the change. If we have helped to feed one family and put a smile on the kids’ faces, we have already been successful,” Roevde says.

Newly-hired technical director David Thorburn will help Roevde to oversee the program, along with several of the club’s senior coaches and board members.

Initially, sessions will be held every Sunday at Hugh Boyd Park for 10 weeks. But Roevde says they are looking to extend the sessions through the winter as well.

“We will start with training, then we will offer help for the most eager players to get into the regular programs to play games,” Roevde says. “Coho’s focus is ‘how can we help more people together?’ They are an amazing organization and exactly the organization we want to be identified with. Through doing good things and being a community partner, we are building a club and a brand that is so much more than just soccer. We are building a family that cares for everyone regardless of gender or background. Everyone is welcome in our club.”

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