With flights paid for and hotel rooms booked, the Golden Eagles soccer club touched down in Albuquerque, N.M., on Monday for the 2012 Indigenous Soccer Cup.
Enterprising coach Charlotte Charlie leads the co-ed team, which is made up of players 19-and-under from Alert Bay, Village Island, Saanich, Songhees and Cowichan First Nations.
In recent months Charlie, of Victoria, has championed the team, and what it stands for, in a campaign to fundraise $17,500. That’s the total cost for the Golden Eagles to play in this week’s Indigenous Cup, July 16 to 22. The team came so close; players are left owing between $50 to $70 each for the remaining costs of the hotel and food.
“The team worked hard at fundraising and promoting their goal. We hit walls left, right and centre along the way due to the fact that we are a new team,” Charlie said.
As of last Thursday the team was just $3,250 shy of that goal, when a final fundraiser, a two-day silent auction with lunches and dinners at the Tsawout band office, pulled in an additional $1,340.
A bottle drive on Saturday raised another $614, bring them within $1,500 of the original target.
“The hotels are 90 per cent paid for, and the food is mostly paid for. Now we can focus on playing,” Charlie said.
Charlie uses the team to promote health and wellness among First Nations youth, while encouraging leadership and education. Charlie, a former a student facilitator at Esquimalt High, volunteers her own time to do group or individual tutoring to help the players work towards college and university.
“I anticipate we’ll make it to the finals. We’re a pretty good team. Teams from B.C. always come away with high expectations, and have won gold there before.”
Because it’s Charlie’s and the team’s first time to the Cup, she brought in a variety of voices to speak about what lies ahead. Some soccer experts spoke of the differing playing styles to expect from Central American teams, while others who have been there before, spoke of what to expect day in and day out.
The Golden Eagles are continuing to fundraise and will continue playing when they return. To donate contact Charlie at 250-217-2416, or firstname.lastname@example.org.