Changing the name of the Royal City Youth Soccer Club, with its remnants of colonialism, is just one part of the New Westminster organization’s makeover – the club is making changes in order to be more diverse and a larger part of the community.
Not only will the moniker “Royal City” be purged, but the club will take out the word “youth” from its name to reflect that it fields players of all ages.
These changes are being made to position the club as a real community organization and a bigger part of the city, said Geoff Ayi-Bonte, who is the currently the chair of the development committee with Royal City Youth Soccer.
The organization, which is adopting the new name “New Westminster Soccer Club” at its annual general meeting tonight, as well as a new logo, is the only club in the city offering organized soccer for community members.
The development committee felt it should be giving its members more opportunities to grow as human beings and learn lifeskills both on and off the field, Ayi-Bonte said. The club also wants to foster a sense of belonging in the community, so that its members feel “included, safe and valued,” he added.
The club should also reflect the community, with a diverse group of players, young and old and from all cultures.
“With more diversity comes more ideas, more perspective,” Ayi-Bonte said.
Part of the new changes will include increasing the club’s visibility in the community, for example, by participating in events like parades, but also by giving back to the community.
“[We will] encourage youth to give back to the community by volunteering, so they learn the value of giving back to their elders and peers,” Ayi-Bonte said.
Ayi-Bonte, who’s been involved on the board of RCYSC for two years, has been an avid soccer player and fan since he was a small child.
“I’ve loved this sport since I was a little kid of four – now I’m 46 and I still love it,” he said.
Being involved in a sports organization is a good way to fight social isolation and to find meaning in life, Ayi-Bonte explained.
“I work in mental health,” he said. “It’s really important to feel good about ourselves. It has an impact on your mental, physical and spiritual self.”
There are many opportunities to get involved with the local soccer club, volunteering on the board or by becoming a community partner, Ayi-Bonte said.
Currently, information about the club is available at rcysc.com, but a new website will be launched in the fall.
The Royal City Youth Soccer Club holds its AGM for all club members tonight (June 7) at 7 p.m. at the New Westminster Secondary School library.