Carl Valentine - Hope & Health

It’s days like Tuesday that make me feel like I have the best job in the world.

I’m at Hope and Health surrounded by hundreds of boys and girls playing the beautiful game of soccer. There are players from the UBC girls’ soccer team and our very own Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency program trying their hand at coaching. We have Whitecaps FC first-team players showing their skills and there are more than 60 volunteers.

And I can tell you that everyone is feeling inspired by the day’s events.

This is the sixth year of Hope and Health and I have been to all but one (double knee replacement). The last couple of years I have been the emcee and I get quite nervous because I want to do a great job especially for the kids. But like other years, I shouldn’t have worried because once you are there you cannot help but be energized by these amazing kids.

When they arrive, they get a free jersey, ball, and brand new (or slightly worn) soccer boots that were collected through a boot drive organized in partnership with Whitecaps FC. They were so happy, so proud and so appreciative of such a gift.

For some, it was their first time playing soccer and their first pair of soccer boots.

I remember standing at the table seeing this happening and thinking of the vision that Hope and Health was looking to achieve, which is to use soccer to create social change and to develop life and leadership skills with Aboriginal children and youth – and for them to be able to carry themselves with pride and confidence and achieve their highest potential and dream big.

I believe there have been over 2,100 children and youth that have attended all of our camps and I have been able to follow some of their amazing stories. As these kids line up to get autographs from David Ousted, Russell Teibert, and several other ‘Caps players I can see the sheer enjoyment they are getting and how much this day is going to make a difference in their lives.

This is more than an event. Hope and Health is a movement with a long-term vision and I am so proud to emcee and be an ambassador for such a great cause.

Whitecaps FC Ring of Honour inductee Carl Valentine is the club's all-time leader in appearances and fourth all-time in goals scored. Currently, Valentine serves as a club ambassador and U-16 Residency assistant coach.