Free Footie
 
 
 
 

Free Footie's
Mission

is to provide vulnerable kids with the opportunity to play in a safe, accessible, and inclusive environment at no cost to them or their families—because when kids are empowered through play, their families, their schools, and their communities are empowered as well.

 
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Founder Statement

 

Free Footie started in 2007 when I met a group of kids that broke my heart into a million pieces.

I was at an inner-city school filled with struggling kids, doing a story for my job as a reporter with CBC Edmonton. After turning the mic off, I asked about volunteering. I had played a lot of soccer and thought I could give the sport back to some kids who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to play. Who knew the kids I’d coach would change my whole life path?

James was a former child soldier. Sarah looked after her brother while her mom worked as a prostitute in Fort McMurray. Eric’s parents abandoned him in West Edmonton Mall. Mohammed’s mother was strung out on drugs. Jade slept in the river valley. Harriette showed up with black eyes. I quickly went from coach to social worker, then to friend, and finally to father figure.

When I became part of my players’ lives, I saw how believing in them and holding them accountable could dramatically change them. From those first years, some kids went on to sign pro soccer contracts; several got full athletic scholarships to college; others simply used the lessons they learned to get an education and a job—and, most importantly, to walk around with a smile, friends, and a sense of belonging.

The change we’ve been able to create and sustain has been nothing short of a miracle. I want nothing more than to see more kids get the chance to not just play barrier-free sport, but to find a coach who believes in them, to find friends on the pitch that have their backs, and to find a community where they belong.

Tim Adams

Founder, Free Footie

 
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What we do

 
 
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Free Footie is a totally free after school club for 4,000 kids in need. Most of our kids are refugees, newcomers, or Indigenous youth who cannot afford the “pay to play” model of recreation. 

But money isn’t the only barrier keeping kids from playing. Even if cost weren’t an issue, many vulnerable children can’t access evening or weekend programs because their families don’t own a vehicle or their parents work the late shift.

Free Footie closes all these gaps:

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Equipment and registration are free, transportation is organized and paid for, and they get picked up from their school right after class.

Our program provides something positive for kids 3:30-5:30 pm—the most important time in a child’s day, according to research. We partner with Edmonton’s highest needs elementary schools to enable kids to play during this critical period, so there’s no time for them to get into trouble. When the final bell of the day rings, the kids can just play. 

Here’s how it works: Teachers, principals, and school staff volunteer to run the programing, and Free Footie does the rest. We design the programs, running training for volunteers, book facilities, and buy equipment. We also plan the transportation, pay for it, and organize big play festivals complete with medallions and trophies. 

Currently, Free Footie operates two afternoons a week during the school year. But we have big plans. We are working to add more days of play each week, and we are expanding beyond soccer so kids can do a wide variety of activities such free hockey, free basketball, free football and hopefully one day, free music. One thing won’t change, though: All kids get to play, regardless of their physical limitations or their family situations. 

We do this because we love kids. Free play is not the end goal; it is simply our incentive to create change. Through play, we can surround kids with role models and teach them leadership, respect, and commitment. Our partner schools see our kids improving their grades, behaving well, and attending classes so they get to take part in the fun at the end of the day.

The power of play is truly amazing.

 
 
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Ayoub

Ayoub always dreamed of playing on a soccer team. From a young age, the 10-year-old idolized players like Zinedine Zidane and Riyad Mahrez — both fellow Algerians. Ayoub’s number-one goal in life is one day to be a pro player like them, too.

 
 

 Our Partner Schools

 
 
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WHO WE ARE

 
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Staff


 
 
 

Board of Directors