EVENING THE PLAYING FIELD
Running Free Footie would be impossible without the support of many sponsors, businesses, companies, and individuals alike, who provide material assistance that helps the leagues get off the ground and allows the players every possible opportunity to succeed. One of Free Footie’s longest-running partnerships is with Alberta Treasury Branches (ATB Financial). The bank and crown corporation serves 753,000 customers in 244 communities in Alberta, and has been a longtime supporter of Free Footie. At the top of the page for the “Community” header on ATB’s website is a picture of kids at a Free Footie soccer game.
Holly Regel, ATB’s Director of Corporate Giving and Strategic Partnerships, emphasizes the importance of Free Footie to the communities that ATB serves, all in the interest of making sure that each of the kids in these communities get a fair shot.
ATB’s website proudly states that the bank serves one community: Alberta. It also says that ATB contributes millions of dollars yearly to Albertan communities through “charitable donations, fundraising, grants, and sponsorships.”
“It’s a very important program,” Regel adds. “The impact on the kids as well as the amount of kids that are benefiting from this. Because it’s all volunteer-run. The people who are running it, they’re supporting it with their full hearts, and because they believe in it.
In 2013, ATB became involved in Free Footie for the first time, and have since provided material support in the form of soccer balls (including sponsoring the creation of the Treaty 6 ball in 2016), team sponsorship, supplying tents for the end-of-season tournament, as well as bringing orange slices and snacks for the players. Volunteers from ATB also set up tents during the June tournament and cheered on the kids on.
“That was really powerful for our team members,” says Regel, “they get to see firsthand how it’s helping the kids.”
Regel adds, “It’s a longstanding partnership for us, and it’s a strong one. One that we believe in. We believe in it because we see the impact that it has on the kids. Not just their physical activity, but they’re meeting friends, they’re gaining leadership skills… There’s just so many benefits beyond ‘okay, they’re going to soccer.’ It’s evening the playing field for them… It’s so powerful.”
As for ATB’s contributions to Free Footie’s ongoing spring season, they have mainly provided financial support for the much-needed transportation, though Regel adds that they may show up in other capacities, should the need arise.
“For us, Free Footie on its own is an amazing program. For us it rolls into our overall commitment to the community. We donate to programs like this because it strengthens the communities where we operate. We’ve really appreciated the partnership.”
Written by: Stefan Salegio