Toronto Soccer Connection – A Brief History

I moved to Toronto in January 2008. Over the past five years I have been involved in helping Toronto Soccer Connection develop into a thriving multicultural group with almost 600 members. The group organizes free friendly soccer games for men and women in Toronto who want to enjoy the beautiful game. The key values of the group are as follows: 1) RESPECT others. Be passionate but know the limits. 2) BE HONEST & PLAY FAIR 3) EVERYONE PLAYS no matter the skill level 4) SMILE & HAVE FUN. This post highlights the achievements of a fantastic group of friends with a passion for soccer.

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Oasis in training

The first team that brought several key members together was Oasis FC. This team was formed by Oasis Dufferin Community Center who do fantastic work to help the local community. The power of soccer to unite different nations was already evident with players from Europe, North America, South America and a strong African contingent including our legendary goal keeper. Oasis began to develop into a competitive team competing in the Toronto Services Soccer league, cash prize tournaments and in friendly games against Zimbabwe All Stars, among others. We quickly realized that soccer could be used as a powerful tool to raise money for charities and the friendly soccer games at Oasis’s annual Run, Walk and Play event helped to draw the crowds and raise funds for the community center.

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Oasis compete in their first cash prize tournament at the Hangar, Downsview, Toronto

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Oasis compete at the annual Run, Walk and Play fundraising event

An important stage in the development of Toronto Soccer Connection was the formation of a Co-ed 6-a-side team. The original team which brought many players together was called CCBR. Yes, I know it sounds like a bank but it is named after the research institute at the University of Toronto which many of us work at.

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CCBR win their first championship

Several Co-ed 6-a-side teams became associated with Toronto Soccer Connection including Chimera FC and eventually the highly successful Grasshoppers FC. Along the way many championships and tournaments were won. We even won a frozen turkey in a Christmas tournament!

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Chimera FC win their first indoor tournament

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The original Grasshoppers United

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Grasshoppers United win a frozen turkey!

Through our Japanese connections in the group we were fortunate to be able to play with the Japanese Football Club of Toronto (JFT). This highly talented and well organized group of players was an inspiration for Toronto Soccer Connection. Importantly they create a tremendous sense of respect, friendliness and fair play, values which Toronto Soccer connection strives to uphold.

Following the devastating tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 JFT organized an annual Kick it for Japan fundraising tournament at Soccerworld, Toronto. Grasshoppers United were fortunate to compete in the tournament and win it two years in a row!

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Grasshoppers United win Kick it for Japan 2011

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Grasshoppers United win Kick it for Japan 2012

As Toronto Soccer Connection increased in size and new friendships were formed we decided that we should host our own fundraising events. In July 2010 I celebrated my 29th birthday by hosting a 12-hour soccerthon. The event was highly successful with great attendance and we raised over $400 for Kick4Life. This fantastic charity uses soccer to transform the lives of disadvantaged children in Lesotho. This includes health education and HIV prevention, voluntary HIV testing, life-skills development, mentoring, support towards education & employment, and the chance to enjoy sport.

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Kick4Life fundraisers, 2011

To raise additional funds for Kick4Life we took advantage of the Toronto District School Board priority school’s initiative which promotes the after school use of schools by community groups. Toronto Soccer Connection has participated in this program for the past three years and hosts friendly pick-up games at Ryerson community school throughout the long winter months.

As 2012 draws to a close it has been another exciting year for Toronto Soccer Connection. Members of our group have been involved in coaching four to six year old children with Royal York and Eglinton soccer clubs. This was a very rewarding experience and hopefully we will be nurturing Canada’s stars of the future.

Meanwhile in addition to defending our Kick it for Japan championship  Grasshoppers United won another championship at Jesse Ketchum with a hard fought final on a cold and wet October afternoon.

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Grasshoppers United 2012 Champions

Finally we continued our fundraising efforts but organizing our first tournament on at hot day in May at Winston Churchill park. On the day of the champions league final, which saw Chelsea beat Bayern Munich we held our own equally competitive and highly entertaining competition with six teams competing for the trophy. The tournament was a great success raising over $400 for a healthy eating snack program at St. Catherine School, Toronto.

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Papaya United look the part

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The eventual champions – Chiquita Banana

Thank you to everyone involved for making this all possible and creating so many wonderful memories. Enjoy the beautiful game and I hope you have a great new year.

Related Post: United by Soccer

Insights into the brian

I would like to share a some stories unraveling the power of the brain following the remarkable news this week that control of a robotic arm had been achieved using a paralysed women’s thoughts.

Paralysed woman’s thoughts control robotic arm

Renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society.

Vilayanur Ramachandran tells us what brain damage can reveal about the connection between celebral tissue and the mind, using three startling delusions as examples.

Ben Underwood’s amazing ability to master echolocation.

Stephen Wiltshire is a British man who was diagnosed as autistic when he was a child. He’s also been noted for his exacting memory, which allows him to recreate [in drawings] vast scenes he sees only once. This video shows his 16-foot-panorama of Rome after taking one helicopter ride above the city.

Albert Einstein Vs Bruce Lee

There are some important lessons we can learn from these two great thinkers.

10 Lessons from Einstein

From Paulo Coelho’s blog

1. Follow Your Curiosity “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

2. Perseverance is Priceless “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

3. Focus on the Present “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

4. The Imagination is Powerful “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

5. Make Mistakes “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

6. Live in the Moment “I never think of the future – it comes soon enough.”

7. Create Value “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

8. Don’t be repetitive “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

9. Knowledge Comes From Experience “Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience.”

10. Learn the Rules and Then Play Better “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”

20 Lessons from Bruce Lee

From Wake Up Cloud blog

1. Apply What You Learn

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”

2. Learn, Discard, Create

“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”

3. Simplicity

“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”

4. Break Barriers

“Using no way as way, using no limitation as limitation.”

5. Be Open-Minded

“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

6. Contribute

“Real living is living for others.”

7. Manage Your Time

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”

8. Be Flexible

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

9. Set Goals

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

10. Be Patient

“A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.”

11. Break the Routine

“All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.”

12. Control Your Thoughts

“As you think, so shall you become.”

13. Take Action

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

14. Allow

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

15. Create Your Own Destiny

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

16. Be You

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

17. Have Integrity

“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect”

18. Learn the Rules, Break the Rules

“Obey the principles without being bound by them.”

19. Do Things for You

“Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.”

20. Believe in Yourself

“You just wait. I’m going to be the biggest Chinese Star in the world.”

A Bag of Tools

This is my favourite piece of poetry that I have read recently. Please leave a reply if you have a piece of poetry that is important in your life.

Isn’t it strange, that princes and kings,
and clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
and even folks like you and me,
are builders for eternity?

To each is given a bag of tools,
a shapeless mass and a Book of Rules;
and each must make ‘ere life has flown,
a stumbling block or a stepping stone.

R.L. Sharpe, “A Bag of Tools,” circa 1809

Related Post: If….

Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is my favourite book which I recommend to all my friends. It tells the story of life in the slums in India and touches on many important issues such love, trust, integrity and defining your self.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes from the book:

“For all his wisdom, he did not know that love cannot be tested. Honesty can be tested, and loyalty. But there is no test for love. Love goes on forever because love is born in a part of us that does not die.”

“I don’t know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us or our endless ability to endure it.”

“A man trusts another man when he sees enough of himself in him. Or maybe when he sees the things he wishes he had in himself.”

“You Are Here. Personality and personal identity are like co-ordinates on the street map drawn by our intersecting relationships. We define who we are by references to people we love and our reasons for loving them.”

“Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.”

“You can’t kill love. You can’t even kill it with hate. You can kill in-love, and loving, and even loveliness. You can kill them all, or numb them into dense, leaden regret, but you can’t kill love itself. Love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and completely, love is forever. Every act of love, every moment of the heart reaching out, is a part of the universal good: it’s a part of God, or what we call God, and it can never die.”

“The soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no colour or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has it’s moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled. It’s the river of the heart, and the heart’s desire. It’s the pure essential truth of what each one of us is, and can achieve.”

“You can only ever be yourself. The more you try to be like someone else, the more you find yourself standing in the way.”

“For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on.

Related Post: Favourite Quotations

Philosophy Class

This is a great story about identifying your priorities and values.

A professor stood before his Philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

Now, said the professor, as the laughter subsided, I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things – your God, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, he continued, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand. One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.