Amazing Things Can Happen:
The Story of The Violet Vipers and Jack Harland
The Violet Vipers, of North Vancouver, are a symbol of inspiration for Canadian youth soccer. On the surface the Vipers are your conventional under 15 girls’ soccer team. Not the best, but not the worst. Once the season is done and dusted they finish somewhere in the middle of the pack. With that said, when one begins to peel back the layers of this talented group of young women a whole new story becomes exposed. Last year, when invited to try something new,the Vipers took the opportunity to join the Play Better movement. The Play Better philosophy empowered the young women to select any Canadian charity of their choice – which they would later donate their rewards too – for hitting there development metrics.
At the start of the Vipers season last year, it was the one year anniversary of Amanda Todd’s death. Following several severe counts of bullying, Amanda committed suicide at the age of 15 at her home in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Following her death there was a public outcry for anti-bullying campaigns. Members of the Vipers were emotionally charged by her death and, therefore, decided to play better soccer in support of the charity, Stop A Bully.
It was your average day at the pitch, two youth girls’ soccer teams competing for who is the best. But, one team came with a focus. That focus centred on playing better and being better people. The Vipers are not your typical bunch of young women because they strongly believe in the notion of playing soccer for something more. Keeping all this in mind, during their last season, one particular soccer game came with an added little twist.
The Vipers are not afraid to lose, but determined to win, both on and off the soccer field and they are committed to putting a stop to bullying by using their passion and dedication to becoming better soccer players as a catalyst for change.
The Play Better program was introduced to Andrew Karlstrom, the Vipers head coach, at the start of last year’s season. Your typical Canadian volunteer soccer coach, Andrew has modest coaching practise but a passion for sport and the willingness to help. “The girls are eager to be challenged with things like; improving their individual juggling record, exceeding their team target for number of successful passes in a game, achieving target possession stats in a game, commitment and consistency in training, etc. The Vipers realize that “winning” is a bi-product of hard work and determination and that giving our all in everything we commit to is what really matters,” stated Andrew.
At this one particular soccer game the girls wanted to hand out pink wrist bands to the apposing team before the match. One of the visual aids Stop A Bully promotes are pink wrist bands. The members of the Vipers team had become ambassadors for the Stop A Bully campaign, hence the desire to aid the cause. It is not every day you see a group of 15 year old girls handing out Stop A Bully wrist bands, to the opposing team, during the pre-match handshake. This became increasingly apparent to the one individual responsible for maintaining a level of moral fiber during the match, the ref.
Jack Harland was the referee that day. Jack was overwhelmed by the positivity, respect and professionalism, by which the game was managed. Typically it would be the ref that would discipline and keep the game in check. Conversely, on this day the moral values and respectful understanding of the girls was provided by the players themselves. The match went off without a hitch and the girls focused on hitting their passing metrics and playing in a respectful manner.
I recently spoke to Andrew and asked him what the score was in the match. His response was exactly what I wanted to hear, “I can’t really recall,” spoke Andrew, “I remember they passed the ball wonderfully and all left with a smile on their faces.” Nevertheless, the real magic in this story transpired in the following few days after the match and was not anticipated by anyone on the Vipers team.
Andrew received a phone call from Jack asking for information so he could make a donation to the Vipers team page. This is the message that Jack left for the group:
“I feel fortunate to have been able to ref your game last week and to have met such a delightful group of budding leaders in our community. It is fantastic to see how amateur soccer can be a catalyst in allowing our youth to work hard and express their passion. I wish you all of the best in supporting your well-chosen cause to stop bullying and, as a token of my appreciation for your on gong efforts; I am donating all of my ref money earned to date this year. It is so gratifying to see such a devoted team – one that wants to improve as individuals/team and continue to support the community. Simply put, well done – you are truly an inspiration! My challenge would be to have all you pass using the inside/outside of your foot in a single game!
Kind regards, Jack Harland.”
Play Better transcends much more than just sport development. It is about culture, holistic development, and community building. In our world’s growing secular society concepts of community and culture are being forgotten. It is important to recognize that playing better embodies something even bigger than sport itself. When your players and team commit to playing for a bigger picture the most astonishing things will happen.
The total rewards Jack provided to the girls added up to $515. The Play Better team wanted to share this personal success story and thank Jack for his support. Success stories, such as this, were not something the Play Better team foresaw. Usually we encourage individuals to make micro donations to their supporters for achieving their development metrics. With that said, this was one story that we wanted to share with our entire supporting cast!
Thank you for joining the Play Better team and sign up your team today.
– See more at: https://goplaybetter.wpengine.com/resources/newsletter-archives/#sthash.31QG5DIm.dpuf