Football? Soccer? Whatever you want to call it, there’s no denying the ability the sport has at bringing people together. Look at the World Cup, for example. One look into the crowd at a World Cup game and you see flags waving, faces painted, groups singing, and so many more little acts of celebrating sport and culture.
On August 13, the Ontario town of Simcoe played host to the annual Farms of Norfolk County Football Association tournament, which provided a glimpse into the sense of community building the sport can have. The tournament hosted 12 teams of migrant farm workers, with each team representing a different farm from the area.
Despite the friendly nature of the tournament, make no mistake, each team was there to win. Tryouts, practices, exhibition games – some of the teams treated the lead-up to the tournament very seriously, as could easily be seen by the chemistry on the field.
Off the field felt more like a cultural celebration than a soccer tournament. For lunch? Traditional Jamaican and Mexican cuisine, including jerk chicken, tacos, burritos and much more. Lunch was accompanied by a local DJ who played great music for spectators and players to enjoy and dance along to, as many did.
The sidelines of the games were another sight to see. Flags of countries represented by the players waving in the air, alongside pom-poms, horns and any other noise-making item that could be found. Mini-games of soccer were formed by people of all ages looking to get in on the action.
Migrant farm workers coming to Ontario and Canada through the government-regulated Seasonal Agricultural Worker and Temporary Foreign Worker Programs do so much to ensure that Ontarians can enjoy local grown fruits and vegetables. It can be easy to forget that their jobs here in Ontario only make up a very small part of who they are. Events like this soccer tournament allow them to show off their personalities in ways people rarely get to see. And for them, it’s an opportunity to unwind, bond with each other, and most importantly have fun playing the sport they all love.
Soccer may be the most popular pastime for most of the workers, but it certainly isn’t the only one. Cooking, music, and playing cards to name a few, are among others To learn more about the workers and what they like to do in their spare time, visit morethanamigrantworker.ca.