Halifax’s professional soccer team, the HFX Wanderers, held its first annual New Canadians Night on June 30, 2022. It was a warm and sunny evening, and hundreds of newcomers and locals alike gathered in the heart of the city to watch the Wanderers take on Atlético Ottawa.
For this event, the Wanderers partnered with ISANS, YMCA, United Way, and other local groups to generously invite newcomers to enjoy the game free of charge, and to showcase how sports can bring our community together and strengthen it.
All in all, 400 newcomers came out to watch the match, and to say they had a great time would be an understatement!
ISANS had a booth outside the stadium’s entrance. An hour and a half before the game, our clients and many more started showing up, with some coming even earlier than that. With the line stretching down the sidewalk, the attendees happily took their free tickets. Each person also got a free drink and popcorn, which only seemed to add to the excitement for most of the children.
As the game’s start time drew closer, the atmosphere made that excitement spread. Music flooded in from the stadium mere feet away, and long-time fans piled in who were decked out in Wanderers’ gear. Of the ISANS clients in attendance, some were soccer fans, some were curious about the sport, and others were just glad to have the chance to get out in the community.
Nine-year-old Muhammed Kelzi, originally from Syria, had the honour of doing the coin toss for the game. He was accompanied onto the field by his father Ibrahim Kelzi. Both were given “together from away shirts” from the HFX Wanderers. Muhammed was given the smallest shirt they had, but as it looked more like a dress, he was happier once it was tucked in for him.
In the end, the Wanderers unfortunately lost the game 2-0, but for ISANS, the soccer club, and the community, the night was a success.