Greenwood Wolves soccer team gets special access to Saturday’s Toronto FC game with Cincinnati

The Greenwood Secondary School boys soccer team was granted special access to Saturday’s Toronto FC game with Cincinnati at the BMO Field.

The team, known as the Greenwood Wolves, caught the attention of Toronto FC’s president Bill Manning after winning the city championships.

They had the opportunity to meet Toronto FC legend Dwayne Derosario ahead of Saturday’s game, and carried the crest as a part of the opening ceremonies.

Coach Peter McKenzie has been a teacher at Greenwood Secondary School for 18 years. (CBC)

Coach Peter McKenzie said it was a special day for the boys, who are all newcomers to Canada.

“A lot of them are escaping political persecution or violence back home, they have family members who weren’t able to come to Canada safely, so certainly challenges that most teenagers don’t face in Canada,” McKenzie told CBC News.

“I think being part of a team, making connections with other students from other countries, alleviates a lot of that stress.

“Forming bonds with each other, feeling a connection with their school, their city and their new country, I think it’s a great way to relieve that stress and just to make those first experiences in Canada to be positive ones,” he added.

‘It’s a special experience’

McKenzie says the team includes players from Afghanistan, Angola, Brazil, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mexico, Syria and Turkey.

With a student population who are all newcomers, Greenwood Secondary School’s mission is to help its students learn English, work on their math, and move them into a regular high school.

The Greenwood Wolves did practice runs before carrying the Toronto FC crest as a part of the opening ceremonies. (Bryan Wires)

“The kids are kind of beside themselves. It’s super exciting just being down here,” McKenzie said.

“There’s a couple of students who had never been on the streetcar before coming down, so this is all very new. It really is. It’s a special experience and we’re very thankful to TFC for making it happen.” 

Team captain Natnael Aemro, 18, is from Eritrea. (CBC)

Team captain Natnael Aemro, 18, who is from Eritrea, hopes to play at the TFC field in the future.

“I love all things about Canada, the freedom, education, more opportunity to play soccer, and especially today, I mean, TFC Field, that’s a big surprise for me. I have never been in TFC field. This is my first time,” he said.

“I’m so excited. When I first came in from the door I wish to play here one day and I hope I’m gonna do it.” 

For Osman Ali, 19, who is also from Eritrea, it was difficult to learn to speak English at the beginning, but it did not take him too long to learn.

He is now happy for the opportunity to meet new friends and see new places.

“We are feeling excited because we are on the field now,” he said.

Osman Ali, left, and his teammate Felipe Soras were excited to visit BMO Field and take in the Toronto FC game. (CBC)

 

Felipe Soras,17, from Brazil has been with the Greenwood Wolves for five months, but he too has big soccer dreams.

“I am very happy to be here because I know it’s a very famous team in Canada and I’m very happy to be here. 

“I hope to play here. My dream is to be a soccer player and I can play here in TFC field.” 

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