When he isn’t busy completing his training as a UBC psychiatry resident, Alan Bates runs the Vancouver Street Soccer League, which recruits at-risk youth and homeless people around the Lower Mainland.
“Players know we have a practice at the same time in the same place every week, and they know their friends are going to be there, the other players,” Dr. Bates told the Ubyssey, the student newspaper of UBC. “Through that friendship, we find that people do get better housing, some of them get jobs, they reduce their drug use, I think, through positive peer pressure.”
Dr. Bates has taken players to Homeless World Cup tournaments in Rio de Janeiro and Paris.
“One of the players who was recruited from the New Fountain shelter, which is pretty much as close as you get to actually on-the-street homeless, and he just completed the Vancouver Marathon,” he told the Ubyssey. “Physical fitness and soccer has become a big part of his identity and self-confidence, and that’s always fun to see.”
Dr. Bates is now organizing monthly games between the league’s street soccer players and the Faculty of Medicine’s faculty, staff and residents and students, along with members of other health-related units at UBC. The first match will take place Sunday, Aug. 5 at 10 am at Andy Livingstone Park. To find out more, go to the UBC Medicine – Street Soccer group on Facebook, or contact Dr. Bates at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the complete Ubyssey article.