Ottawa’s Community CupHow to Replicate
Subject of AnalysisCommunity Engagement, Integration, sports, welcoming communities
AuthorDan Dubeau, Wendy Robbins
Ottawa’s Community Cup: Using Sport for Developing and Building a Welcoming Community http://www.communitycup.ca/
The Community Cup, one of Ottawa’s most ‘feel good’ events, is based on three simple principles:
- playing a sport together breaks down barriers between newcomers and host communities;
- people who play sports have friends and families who come to cheer them on, and who benefit from other planned activities; and
- building connections begins during event planning.
The Community Cup began in Ottawa in 2005 as an initiative of the Host Program of the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, which works to integrate newcomers to Canadian culture and lifestyle. Choosing soccer for its universality, a soccer tournament was designed to attract new volunteers and meet the needs of newcomers for connections in their new community.
Now in its 9th year, the Community Cup has grown to become a festival that showcases sport, inclusiveness and community awareness. This year’s event will host 48 soccer teams (groups of friends), a kids zone, seniors zone, community connections tent, dance stage, Citizenship ceremony, demonstration sports, and more. This event attracts Ottawa’s multicultural communities, bringing together a diverse, multigenerational crowd for ‘a day in the park.’
At the heart of the Community Cup is soccer. Research (such as this report from the Conference Board of Canada) demonstrates the power of sport to connect people, and to promote positive values. Community Cup soccer has its own rules and style, emphasizing ‘spirit’, resulting in a less aggressive game. Monitors judge ‘spirit points’ throughout each game, and teams move ahead based on spirit and game points for the Community Cup. The Spirit Cup goes to the team with the most spirit points (game points do not count).
The event’s community building initiatives include:
- connecting Ottawa’s leaders, such as MPs, MPPs and the mayor, with diverse communities through their engagement as honourary team coaches;
- engaging planning team and event day volunteers, almost half of which are newcomers, and providing valuable work experience and social connections;
- celebrating inclusion and respect in every way, such as through environmental sustainability and promoting the inclusion of women, girls and people with disabilities;
- encouraging corporate partners and sponsors to become champions and engage their staff to volunteer as part of their employer supported volunteerism programs;
- placing on average two newcomer individuals on every team; and
- using recreation, volunteerism and sport to involve people who otherwise might not interact with newcomers or diverse communities.
- In 2012, 24 teams (240 individuals) participated in the soccer tournament.
- 2000 people attended the event, more than 40% of whom were newcomers.
- More than 200 community members volunteered.
- Following Ottawa’s success, four Ontario communities (York Region, Niagara/St. Catharines, London, Windsor) held their own Community Cups in 2012. At least two more locations will pilot an event by 2014.
Newcomers have expressed that this event has been the point at which they truly felt welcomed and on their way to integration. Some have said they met their new best friends and some have said they got a job lead. Families connected and learned a bit about each other in the welcoming park. This is what makes it worth all the effort and pushes us to ensure the Community Cup continues for years to come.