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West Vancouver barber looking for soccer donations for kids in Syria

WATCH (above): A West Vancouver barber needs your help with his lifelong campaign to have soccer help the lives of displaced Syrian children. Elaine Yong has the story.

For a West Vancouver barber, soccer is more than just a beautiful game.

Michel Ibrahim, owner of the West Van Barbershop, has proven through a soccer academy he created in his Lebanese home village years ago that the sport can also be a lifeline for displaced and orphaned children around the world.

Cutting hair for more than two decades, it would be an understatement to say Ibrahim is a soccer fanatic. Not only does he play several times a week, he also coaches and sponsors two soccer teams.

On top of his involvement in the Lower Mainland, he also spreads his love of soccer all around the world. It all started when Ibrahim was on a trip back home to Lebanon in 1993 and saw a group of kids playing soccer with only one patched up ball.

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” The next day I go to the nearest soccer shop [and] I buy 10 balls, soccer jerseys, shorts, socks, even shin pads and nets,” Ibrahim said.

“And I make a makeshift soccer field right on the concrete and the kids start to play. From that moment, I established my mission and my love to do good work.”

Over the years, Ibrahim has collected equipment to give to more than 15,000 kids in 24 war torn and underdeveloped countries.

His current project is gathering enough gear for 700 Syrian refugees.

“In the war, kids are the vulnerable victim,” said the 53-year-old.

“As they say, truth is the first victim, in the war, it’s always the kids.”

It’s something Ibrahim knows firsthand — he lost his father and two brothers to wars in Lebanon and they left behind a dozen children. It’s why Ibrahim tries to make as many personal deliveries of the soccer gear as he can.

“The smile on the kids is worth a million smiles from any people,” Ibrahim explained.

“When you hand a soccer ball to a kid, always you see the impressions, the happiness, the excitement of his face. And that excitement doesn’t have an expiry date. The feeling I can’t describe. But joy, you do it from the heart to the heart. From us to them.”

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Ibrahim will be taking soccer donations until November 15 at the West Van Barber Shop located at 1345 Marine Drive [Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.].

~ with files from Elaine Yong

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