A team of 18 female soccer players from the South Shore will be introducing the sport to girls in the Dominican Republic for the first time when they leave on a week-long Canada-Dominican Goodwill Tour next February.
Putting the team together for the tour began a year ago by the husband and wife duo of Derek and Gail Doucette, who are “spearheading this team and the fundraising with the help of many parents and the athletes,” said Gail Doucette. “We started by contacting kids and families last summer who might want to do this and would appreciate the experience,” she said. “It’s great for the athletes to have to work and volunteer their time and efforts to raise money for a worthwhile cause and experience. This will truly be an eye-opener for our kids to see how some people really do live and how little they actually possess.”
The soccer players hail from numerous communities in Lunenburg County, including New Germany, Lunenburg, Bridgewater and Mahone Bay. Doucette said not only is this the first soccer team to make a Goodwill Tour to the Dominican, but the first female soccer team. Doucette said when she first suggested a female soccer team make the tour, it came as a surprise to Dominican contacts that girls even played soccer. “It was an eye-opener for them,” said Doucette. “They said, ‘girls can’t do that’ and I said, ‘yes, they can. Let’s get them playing.’”
Playing some friendly soccer games with children, visiting schools and delivering school supplies and donating soccer equipment is on the team’s agenda for the week-long tour. “When we go, we arrive as Team Canada with red and white jerseys representing Canada.”
The team is actively collecting new and used soccer equipment to be donated to the girls’ soccer teams they will meet in the Dominican, said Doucette. “Some schools have donated old team uniforms and the articles of clothing in the lost and found that were left behind at the end of the school year. The airlines will allow us to take 600 pounds of supplies free of charge for a mission trip.”
Doucette said another project the girls are working on is making reusable menstrual pads. “They are making them out of fabric. I have a pattern for them, so we will bring down as many as we can.” The pads will be given to females in the area they visit.
With the cost to make the trip about $2,000 for each player, the team has been undertaking a number of fundraisers, including an ice cream booth at the South Shore Exhibition and the upcoming Rubber Duck Race on the LaHave River on Aug. 11. Tickets for the race must be purchased in advance. A cash prize of $1,000, an iPad, a boat tour and golfing package are the prizes to be won. Shipyard’s Landing in Bridgewater is the finish line.
“We have other small fundraisers planned for the fall leading into Christmas,” said Doucette. “One of the player’s family members has handmade a quilt set and another person knitted a throw for us to raffle off. We’d like to organize a five-kilometre fun run/walk for the fall. It all takes time and effort and we are just flying by the seat of our pants organizing the fundraisers, one after another.”
Doucette said the team has had some small donations to be used as prizes from local companies, but are always open to sponsorship and other donations to help cover the cost for each athlete to participate. Donations or questions regarding sponsorship can be directed to email@example.com.