1000+ soccer balls transformed into showcase of Indigenous art, culture and history
Our little soccer program is turning its order of 1000+ soccer balls into a showcase of Indigenous art, culture and history.
If you dont know, we are a totally free soccer program for 1300 kids in need. The kids get everything required to play including free jerseys, shin guards, coaching, transportation to and from games and a ball.
“A soccer ball is a prized possession for the kids in Free Footie,” says Tim Adams, founder and volunteer organizer of the free soccer program. “The kids will take it everywhere they go, so why not use it as more than just something to shoot, pass and dribble? I've always wanted to use the ball as a way of teaching the kids something beyond soccer.”
This year they’ve teamed up with Cree/Metis Artist Dawn Marie Marchand to create the “Edmonton Treaty 6 soccer ball.” Marchand transforms panels of the ball into Edmonton’s river valley. The design includes the city skyline, the North Saskatchewan River and 13 different coloured horses running towards each other. Each horse depicts a different First Nation in the Edmonton area. Marchand’s design shows Edmonton’s river valley as a gathering place and helps us understand who makes up Edmonton’s story.
“Sometimes people just think we are all the same,” says Marchand. “That we speak the same language and that we have the same way of doing things and that’s not necessarily true. It’s important to understand the people that are around you. We want to get to that place where we know who our neighbours are.”
We believe Free Footie is a perfect venue for the 'Edmonton Treaty 6 soccer ball' to start rolling. Kids in our program are refugees, newcomers as well as from First Nations around the city, and they all share a love of the game. It’s a perfect conversation piece on the sidelines, in the classroom and at home. Free Footie Founder Tim Adams hopes this helps break down barriers.
“Our kids are amazing, they don’t care where you come from, what colour you are or what language you speak – they just want to play. I thought this was another chance for our kids to show how they can be role models for the city. To take a lead and learn a little more about who we are. We all know a little understanding can go a long way.”
The balls are free for the kids, but not free to make, so ATB Financial stepped up to help and is sponsoring the production.
"There has been so much thought behind the design to create a ball that is a reflection of our community and the children who will enjoy it,” says Sandra Huculak of ATB Financial. “It is special because it tells a story and is an opportunity to celebrate our history.”
The ball’s design is already receiving high praise from the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. Jodi Stonehouse with the faculty loves the ball so much she has ordered 40 to share.
"The soccer ball with Dawn Marie's artwork serves as a symbol or relationship building. When we gift these soccer balls we will be able to tell this story to remind our youth of their relationship to each other, the land and to the Treaty itself."
A sample soccer ball, complete with the design printed on it is now in Edmonton to be seen and shared. The full order of balls will arrive in late April and be given out to the kids to be used on the field. Dawn Marie will be available to any of the Free Footie teams that want to learn more about the story being told on the ball. Kids will also be directed to this page where they can learn more about each element of the ball.
Free Footie is a free soccer league for the highest needs kids in Edmonton. It started 8 years ago with 4 teams and 80 kids now there’s 76 teams and 1300 kids. It's run entirely by volunteers. There are no registration fees and every child is given a pair or shin pads, soccer socks, shorts, a ball and a jersey. Our mandate: to ensure any kid that wants to play, can.
About the ball!
For a full explanation of the design read the artist's blog <<CLICK HERE>>
*If you're here to buy a ball, scroll to the bottom of the page.*
Who made the ball!
Ball manufacturing can be an exploitative business. Our ball is fair trade produced by Volo Athletics to ensure there's no child labour, fair wages and proper working conditions.
These balls would not be possible without the amazing support of ATB Financial. ATB paid for all our kids to get a ball for free!!