Soccer is a sport that thousands of Calgarians get a real kick out of.
And part of the credit for that goes to some veteran players who helped get the ball rolling in the city.
Several of those players still meet every week for a fun scrimmage with each other.
Many of them are now in their 80s, with longtime goalkeeper John Hendrix being the elder statesman at 88.
“When balls come at me I dive for them – I don’t get them all, but I dive for them,” Hendrix laughed. “Takes me a little longer to get up than it used to.”
The players say the sport wasn’t that common when they moved to Calgary from Europe around 60 years ago.
“When I came in ’57, there was no soccer, no soccer leagues,” said 86-year-old Kurt Schulz “Just a couple of us who came from Europe, kicked the ball around.”
The men eventually went on to form the Calgary Kickers team, which enjoyed success at amateur tournaments in all kinds of places.
“Australia, Argentina, Germany, Holland, the U.S.” Hendrix said. “You name it, we’ve been all over the world playing soccer.”
The players have a wide variety of trophies and medals from those trips.
“It’s fabulous, the number of people we’ve met all over the world,” said 85-year-old Bill Kujat.
The soccer veterans are encouraged by the growth of the game in Calgary in recent years.
“Soccer is a good exercise game for any child,” Schulz said.
The former members of the Calgary Kickers meet for their weekly scrimmages year-round, playing outdoors during the warm months and moving indoors during the cold part of the year.
“It’s just amazing that we’re still kicking,” Kujat said.
The players say they’ll continue hitting the field as long as they can.
“This old body’s been around for a long time,” Hendrix said. “Fortunately, I’m still here and still loving it.”