By Thomas Feth
The players at Footie Camp this week were visited by Canadian Paralympian Angelena Dolezar to discuss perseverance and determination in sport. After a long soccer career which included playing up to the women's Premier level in Edmonton, Angelena lost one of her legs due to an accident in 2013, ending her soccer career.
"I was pretty sad, but I used that experience to set even bigger goals for myself."
- Angelena Dolezar
"Soccer was my life. I still love soccer and I watch it all the time even though I can't play anymore," Angelena told the players.
After losing her leg and witnessing the end of her soccer career, Angelena made a quick transition to playing a new sport - sitting volleyball - in 2015. By 2016, Angelena was already a player on the Canadian Women's Sitting Volleyball Team at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Speaking on her transition to sitting volleyball, Angelena shared that "it took a lot of motivation. I started playing sitting volleyball in 2015, and then within a year I was able to close the gap and advance my skills to be able to get to this level. Learning sitting volleyball was pretty hard for me, but I decided to train really really hard in order to get to Rio."
In fact, before the Paralympics, Angelena won a Bronze Medal with the Canadian Women's Sitting Volleyball Team at the Parapan American Games in 2015. Despite making it to Rio with Team Canada, Angelena suffered a concussion before any games were played.
Speaking to the players, Angeline shared that "I didn't get to play at all in Rio, and I had to sit on the sidelines for the whole tournament. So not only did I get into a crash which resulted in me not being able to play soccer anymore, I trained really hard to go to a tournament and got myself hurt. I was pretty sad, but I used that experience to set even bigger goals for myself."
Despite all of Angelena's set backs, she is determined to play at the next Paralympic games in 2020 in Japan.
"Even though I got hurt in Rio, I'm not letting it affect my training. I had to take my sadness and frustration and push it away because it's super important for me to represent my country. I want to use all the challenges I've faced to motivate and push myself."
After discussing her soccer career, her injury, perseverance, and her time with the Canadian Women's Sitting Volleyball Team with the players at Footie Camp, Angelena said:
"I think it's really important for kids to learn about challenging situations, because for many young kids it's hard to imagine living through the experience that I went through. I wanted them to know that even after all I've been through, it's still possible to move on and go on to bigger and better things despite the circumstances."