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By Toronto Catholic District School Board Trustee, Barbara Poplawski

The cry for help in recent news stories from young people in Attawapiskat ignited a strong desire in the Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton (BMTM) CHS soccer team to reach out and really make a difference in the lives of the Attawapiskat youth.  Under the leadership of their coach, Paulo Pereira, the Ontario 2015 ‘AAA’ Soccer Silver Medal winners, the BMTM Royals took on the battle to fight hopelessness and desperation encountered by the small community of Attawapiskat.

After reaching out and connecting with Attawapiskat’s Venzina Secondary School and the Recreational Coordinator, both short term and long term action plans were coordinated.

The BMTM Royals want to be in Attawapiskat, June 23-30  to put on a Soccer Camp. The team will be bringing all kinds of gently used equipment collected through donations for the Attawapiskat community.

Attawapiskat is a small northern community of 1,500.  The students on the BMTM ROYALS team are energized at the possibility of actually doing something to help fellow youth in Attawapiskat.  The fact that they will be sleeping in the gym in their sleeping bags doesn’t quell their excitement.

If enough money is raised, the whole team of 21, plus two coaches will be heading to Attawapiskat (presently they are looking at 10 team members plus 2 coaches).

The Royals see this as a long-lasting relationship with the Attawapiskat community and hope to make this Soccer Camp a yearly occurrence. Additionally the Royals plan to offer students in Attawapiskat the opportunity to visit their school, Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton.  The exchange program will center around soccer, coaching staff, rules of soccer and how to implement a house league program that mirrors programs at TCDSB. Contact will be maintained through social media, video chats, and the gradual implementation of other relationship building activities.

The BMTM Royals need your help to make this happen. Donations are gratefully accepted and can be made payable to Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary (Attawapiskat). Tax receipts are available. Other ways to donate include the team’s GoFundMe website.

We wish the BMTM Royals, Paulo Pereira and coaches, much success both at the OFSAA Ontario finals (the BMTM Royals soccer team will be playing for gold, June 2-4 in Windsor) and for the Royals trip to Attawapiskat  June 23-30.