A s a writer it is difficult for me to start this without some quip to draw you in, but there was nothing I could think of that would do this article justice, so instead I am just going to type it as I feel it.
The Edmonton Chargers Football Club changed my perspective on life, humanity and what is truly important. The family they have created there is amazing, what they are doing for people everyday is something to aspire too, and it all started with football.
From the outside looking in, the Chargers look like a regular football team, they enter the field, they play the game as best they can and when the game is over they head home. However, what you don’t notice is that one of the boys is wearing worn out cleats because his family couldn’t afford a pair, so one of the older boys gave them his old pair. You don’t notice that not one of the boys will have their shirts un-tucked, because they are told as soon as they enter the clubhouse that their hats are to be off and their shirts tucked in. You don’t see the coaches that drive the kids home because they know that the parent is stuck working and couldn’t make it to the game, but the coaches wanted them to be there.
I sat down with the General Manager and firmly believed I would sit there and talk about how amazing football is, but instead we talked about the hardships, what they really do there, and how all they want to achieve is giving all the kids a reason for wanting to come back, teach them the basic principles of life and turn them into gentlemen. There was no defining moment that lead to this article, more so a collection of moments, people, emotions, that made me realize that the Chargers aren’t just a football team, they are the true definition of family.
Once a Charger, always a Charger.
The basic principles of the Edmonton Chargers are discipline, respect and equality. Everyone is expected to follow these to a tee. The players walk in boys and leave gentlemen. They greet everyone by their title unless told otherwise. I am no teacher but as I was walking around observing I did get called ‘Miss’ a few times, a very odd feeling for me. I had the door opened for me by a boy who I am twice the size of and when I went to help him, he assured me that he had it. This safe haven where kids get to just be, but are also respected as adults is hard to come by these days. I witnessed two young boys who had just started with the Chargers and they were genuinely excited to be there and yet, they were just a little disappointed that practice was over. I have played on many teams, and never have I been disappointed that a practice is over.
My affiliation with the Chargers is based on one meeting, and from that meeting I felt I needed to do more. So everyday I buy a water bottle, from Remedy, that gives 5c to the Chargers, who as a non-profit, truly benefit from every donation. I asked them point blank what they needed to keep the doors open and what they really need, is time. I mean obviously any donation is welcome but they are in dire need of volunteers, for games, fundraisers, auctions, you name it, they need an extra set of hands, and as Tony would say:
I’m not asking you to do something you can’t do.
They reap what they sow though. For the past 22 years at Christmas time they help with a drive that gives over 250 families Christmas Hampers, delivered one week before Christmas. Not only does this teach the players the value of giving back, it proves to them that it is important.
So this is what I present to you. As it is a non-profit organization, obviously it relies heavily on the generosity of others, but that isn’t the purpose of this article. The purpose is just to let you know that they are there, that they are an inspiration to me and to anyone who walks through their doors, and if I can even shine a little bit of light on them, then that is a success to me.
The common factor is football, the message is family.
I would like to dedicate this article to Susan Morgan, the mother of the Chargers, who on this day last year passed away. I never got the chance to meet you, but from the legacy that you have left behind, I feel like I know you. You have inspired generations of players, parents and people and I want you to know that the love and dedication that you poured into the Chargers, remains. Every time a boy tucks in his shirt and removes his cap, it is a salute to the memory of you.