Victoria Park was filled with laughter and friendship Saturday as participants from Fergus, Halton Hills and Kitchener gathered for the second annual Special Needs Soccer Festival.
Head coach of the Fergus special needs soccer program and festival organizer Pat Espina couldn’t have asked for a better day as sunny skies and warm temperatures lasted throughout the afternoon.
The event attracted six teams from across the region– three from Fergus, two from Kitchener-Waterloo, and one from Halton-Hills, with about 70 athletes participating overall.
Along with the soccer games, there was face painting, a photo booth, live musical entertainment by local artist David Cavan Fraser throughout the day.
Players were also invited to participate in the making of a music video– dancing along to the song Happy by Pharrell Williams.
The event drew many familiar faces from the community including the OPP and Centre Wellington Fire Department. Centre Wellington Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj, President of the Ontario Soccer Association Ron Smale, Councillor Kelly Linton and MPP Ted Arnott were also there to open the games and join in the festivities.
“It’s a privilege to be here today to share the beautiful day with you, and more importantly share the beautiful game and the work that’s being done in this community and throughout the province of Ontario,” Smale said. “We spend hundreds of hours setting these types of days up to ensure we’re embracing the community— we’re embracing all the loved ones within the community to enjoy our beautiful game.”
Espina thanked Trade-Mark Industrial Inc. and Mark DePass who sponsored the event, and he indicated he hopes to see it hosted again next year.
“I am really proud to be a part of our FEDS organization. I love to work with all our 12 special needs soccer coaches and be a part of our player’s lives.
The day ended with cake and great memories of a day spent with friends, organizers state.