Teaming up for kids

October 1, 2014



University of Alberta (U of A) medical students helped inner-city kids experience what sports has to offer through Soccer Superstars.

It definitely had an impact on the kids, and it was an incredible experience for us. It actually influenced my decision to go into medicine, because it showed me how you can make a difference.

Everyone recognizes the benefits of getting kids involved in sports, but those activities can be out of reach for some children.

That was the reality that prompted a group of medical students at the University of Alberta to team up with the City of Edmonton and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) to create a soccer program specifically for kids who may not otherwise get a chance to be involved in sports.

“As undergrads, we had been working with BBBS to mentor high school kids and heard about a program in Vancouver called Hockey Heroes that focused on inner city kids,” recalls Dr. Debraj Das, a first-year resident.

Inspired by the idea, Dr. Das, and his friend and colleague Dr. Robbie Sidhu approached BBBS to establish a similar program in Edmonton. “Soccer made sense because we could do it during the summer months when we weren’t in school.”

Launched in the summer of 2008, the Soccer Superstars program brought together students in grades three to six from Montrose School and Ben Calf Robe School and teamed them up on the soccer field.

“We met on Tuesdays and Thursdays for eight weeks,” says Dr. Das. “Our goal was to teach them about teamwork and give them a chance to have fun.”

The program ran for four years and spawned another program called Basketball Buddies, before wrapping up in 2012 due to the increasingly busy schedules of Dr. Das and Dr. Sidhu, who had begun medical school.

“We just didn’t have the time to devote to it anymore,” says Dr. Das. “It definitely had an impact on the kids, and it was an incredible experience for us. It actually influenced my decision to go into medicine, because it showed me how you can make a difference.”

In fact, he would be willing to share his experience with other potential organizers.

“I would love to see it start up again and reach more kids, so if anyone wants to learn more I’d be happy to share what I know.”

If you’re interested in contacting Dr. Das, please email the Alberta Medical Association at amamail@albertadoctors.org.

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.