Women’s Soccer + Soldier On | Soccer Féminin + Sans Limites
The following story is courtesy of gopaladinsgo.ca originally published on April 23, 2021 https://gopaladinsgo.ca/news/2021/4/23/womens-soccer-soccer-f-minin-womens-soccer-soldier-on-soccer-f-minin-sans-limites.aspx
The Paladins Raise Thousands for Soldier On
This spring, the women’s soccer team at RMC took on a new kind of challenge. Trading their cleats for running shoes, the Paladins – who have been spread across the country and unable to play or train together due to the pandemic – launched a fundraiser for Soldier On, while at the same time raising awareness for mental health.
Head coach Chad Beaulieu said he was proud of what his team was able to accomplish, both in terms of mental health awareness, and the over $2,500 raised for charity.
“This was their initiative,” he said. “They thought of it, they put it together, they promoted it, they did it. It’s one more point of pride that the women’s soccer program brings to RMC.”
The event – 500km for Mental Health – aimed to solicit donations and bring the topic of mental health into the forefront throughout March, before members of the team ran or rucked a combined 500km during the final week of the month.
A third-year member of the team, Officer Cadet Gesse-Lea Roberts underscored the need to focus on mental health, especially under the circumstances brought about by the pandemic.
“This year has been difficult on everyone,” Roberts said. “Having a soccer team that is used to spending hours each day together spread out across Canada, it has been difficult to maintain our usual closeness.”
While not the same as competing against an opponent on the field, Roberts said the fundraiser gave the team a common goal to work towards together, with the added bonus of challenging their physical fitness.
Even if that challenge was something she disliked.
“I have always hated running with a passion, and unless it was in a soccer game, I had never run further than 5k at one time before March this year,” Roberts said. “This year has been the longest I have gone without playing soccer in 19 years, and I knew that I needed to start making running a priority since I wasn’t running every day in soccer practices and games.”
As the snow started to melt, Roberts dusted off her running shoes, and started running every day, stretching her jogs to a daily 8km. When the final week of March rolled around, Roberts pushed herself even further, running 10-13km per day, totalling over 90km all by herself to lead her team’s effort to reach a collective 500km.
After her intense regimen over the last several weeks, Roberts said she has actually come to enjoy running, rather than dreading it like she did before.
“It is now a part of my day that I look forward to,” she said. “I am a very competitive person and competition is what keeps me sane and motivated. With the absence of soccer this year, running has been amazing for my mental health; I’ve had something I can compete at, and goals I can achieve each day.”
The health benefits, both mental and physical, of exercise are fundamental to Soldier On, whose mission is to help ill and injured veterans and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces on their journey to recovery through sports, recreation, and creative pursuits.
While large-scale fundraising events are also helpful, Joe Kiraly, Manager of Outreach at Soldier On, said the charity stems from smaller efforts, like this one.
“As the Soldier On program has grown, it continues to rely on grassroots initiatives to raise much needed dollars to go directly towards our mandate,” he said. “In short, these community-led fundraising and awareness events are absolutely critical to the long-term mission success of Soldier On, and we remain in humble awe of them.”
Kiraly said the fact that the Paladins women’s soccer team went out of their way to organize a Soldier On fundraiser was unsurprising, given the types of people RMC attracts.
“These future leaders of the CAF represent the best of all of us, and I personally find it extremely gratifying knowing that these passionate, empathetic and tenacious young leaders stand ready to lead the CAF in the future,” he said. “In these tumultuous times, the simple fact that you look for opportunities to make other people’s lives better speaks louder than words ever could.”
After the fundraiser, Soldier On reached out directly to the women’s soccer team to say a personalized thank you via video call.
Visit soldieron.ca today to found out how you can support ill and injured veterans and serving members of the CAF.
About the Royal Military College of Canada:
Located in historic Kingston, Ontario, RMC is over one hundred and forty years old. It was founded in 1874 when the Dominion Government , led by Alexander Mackenzie, passed an act in Parliament to establish a military college “for the purpose of providing a complete education in all branches of military tactics, fortification, engineering, and general scientific knowledge in subjects connected with and necessary to thorough knowledge of the military profession.” On June 1, 1876, the Military College of Canada opened its doors to the first class of eighteen officer cadets. These are the “Old Eighteen,” known by name to all officer cadets today. Two years later, in 1878, Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, granted the College the right to use the prefix “Royal.”
“The Royal Military College of Canada Degrees Act, 1959,” passed by the 25th Ontario Legislature and given Royal Assent on March 26, 1959, empowers the College to confer degrees in Arts, Science, and Engineering. RMC now offers a wide variety of programmes in these three areas, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels offered both on site through traditional studies and by distance learning.
The graduates of RMC have established a reputation of service and achievement throughout the world out of all proportion to their numbers. From the North West Campaign of 1885, through the South African War, the First and Second World Wars, Korea, the Persian Gulf, to the latest peace keeping operations the graduates of RMC have distinguished themselves in all aspects of Canadian military service. Ex-cadets have been similarly prominent in a wide variety of civilian professions.
For more information on their varsity programs please go to gopaladinsgo.ca.