International Flavours adult women's soccer team searching for new members, sponsors
Submitted photo: Some embers of the International Flavours (back from left) Sabrina Arruda, Christine McGregor, Ofelia Smith, Amy Cybulski, and (front from left) Katrina Thompson, Kaitlyn Kargus, Yuliana Miranda, Mary Josey and Ana Castiblanco gathered recently for practice in the hopes they will be able to field a team for the upcoming Upper Ottawa Valley Adult Soccer Club season.
The ability to continue playing the Beautiful Game is in jeopardy for a group of area women if it can't find new players and a team sponsor soon.
The team, known as International Flavours, was born five years ago after the topic of soccer came up in an English As a Second Language (ESL) class in Pembroke. Since then, the team has been a member of the Upper Ottawa Valley Adult Soccer Club. In the past, the players have been able to come up with the funds to cover the $2,500 team registration fee with the help of some donations, but this year with of the loss of players due to some being pregnant and others moving away, the numbers have dwindled to a level when the International Flavours may not be able to field a team for it's first scheduled game on May 28.
This possibility is upsetting for one of the original team members Yuliana Miranda, who is originally from Mexico. She played soccer in Mexico and when she first moved to Pembroke she didn't know anyone, but she quickly made friends through her ESL class. The first year the team brought together women from Colombia, Mexico, the Ivory Coast and Poland, with the help of their teacher Mary Josey, who continues to play after learning the game and also servers as the team manager. Over the years the team has featured players from Thailand, Brazil, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and the Philippines.
“Soccer seems to be a global connection,” Miranda said. “Whether they called it soccer or football, they loved this sport. The women worked really hard and we had a competitive team.”
Over the years, the team has become about much more than just soccer as the players have become like family offering support to one another.
“These women just want to come out and have fun, get exercise and make new friends,” Miranda said. “We became a community.”
Since some of the team members are single moms, co-ordinating work schedules and child care can pose a challenge for making it to practices and more importantly games which is why having extra players is helpful.
Because of the registration fee, while some people want to play they can't afford it, which is why the team is now hoping to find a sponsor. In a letter sent out to groups in the hopes of securing sponsorships, Josey noted this is the first year the team has struggled to find players and collect the registration fee.
“These women need a place to play,” she wrote.
The team typically plays one game a week, sometimes two, in addition to one practice. The majority of the games are played at Pembroke's Riverside Park although some games are played at the Petawawa Civic Centre, Miranda noted. The team welcomes players of all abilities to join.
The hope is that is a sponsor is secured, some of the money could go towards transportation costs for the players who travel from Deep River and Renfrew to be part of the team.
For players interested in joining the International Flavours or for businesses or individuals able to provide sponsorships, please contact Ofelia Smith at 613-732-1793, Mary Josey at 613-732-4666 or Yuliana Miranda at 343-369-8484.