Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Brossard team dons turbans in solidarity

Brossard team dons turbans in solidarity

MONTREAL — Soccer coach Ihab Leheta sees his role as not only instilling a love for the game in his young protégés, but also teaching them some life lessons — such as speaking out when they witness injustice.

The ban on turbans by the Quebec Soccer Federation, despite medical evidence that they pose no danger and a directive from the Canadian Soccer Association that they be allowed, offered Leheta, who coaches under-14 players in Brossard, such an opportunity.

The QSF move, and a suggestion by its director that Sikh children affected by it play soccer in their backyards, sparked outrage in the province, across the country and abroad.

A city councillor in Montreal plans to present a motion denouncing the federation; “disgusted” parents Donald Pinkerton and Philippa Settels have pulled their 6- and 11-year-old sons from Greenfield Park soccer in protest; and a member of the Sikh community in Switzerland has asked Sepp Blatter, president of Zurich-based FIFA, to intervene. Some of the 13 soccer clubs in the West Island are putting pressure on Lac St-Louis Regional Association to appeal to the QSF to reconsider.

Yet the provincial body appears to have dug in its heels, refusing to respond to questions on the issue and removing contact information about its board of directors from its website.

Saddened by it all, Leheta, 46, decided he couldn’t just sit back in silence. He had a chat with his undefeated team last Friday before Saturday’s big game against Granby.

“I asked them what was more important than this game,” Leheta said Monday in an interview. “One said school, another said family, and then someone said injustice.”

with thanks : montrealgazette : LINK : for detailed news.

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