Annika Leslie is a rising star in the Canadian soccer world.
Leslie started playing soccer when she was six years old and says she loved the community aspect of the sport and loves the opportunities that she has been able to have.
The 18-year-old is currently playing collegiate soccer at the University of West Virginia.
She says she wanted to help provide youth with an opportunity to participate in sport, recognizing that some aren’t afforded the privilege to do so.
“I didn’t want things like registration costs or equipment to be a barrier for them,” she says from her hotel room in Ontario. She is currently attending a Canada Soccer training camp, hoping to secure a spot on the roster for the U20 Canadian national team.
She reached out to Jumpstart, which then put her in contact with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS).
Read more: Immigrants facing key barriers in N.S.
The group has a Community Connections program, which is designed to aid immigrants in integrating into their communities through social activities.
“I love how welcoming Canada is to immigrants. I love that we have such a diverse population and anything I can do to help support that, I’m all for that. Anything I can do to help them have a seamless transition,” she says.
Leslie sent out a letter asking the soccer community to donate any gently used or new soccer gear and received an overwhelming response.
Soccer clubs and families alike contributed to her cause, including the Halifax Wanderers, donating boxes full of soccer equipment and gear.
Leslie collected more than 4,000 pieces of gear, which in turn has helped 250 immigrant children receive gear for winter soccer, with some remaining for the spring session.
ISANS stated in a press release how grateful it was for her initiative.
“While we can’t repay her for her generosity, we want to extend our heartfelt thanks to her for putting the call out and coordinating these donations, and for the time and effort she, her family, and her friends spent sorting, tallying, and delivering the gear to ISANS.”
Leslie says she hopes to continue doing this kind of work in the future.
“I want to keep kind of pushing in this direction, helping out in any way that I can, maybe inspiring others to do the same,” she says.