August 31, 2012 – Langelotz and Zimmerly Team Up with Soccer Club in Puerto Lopez – In his final address as president at Canadian Mennonite University in 2012, now retired CMU President Gerald Gerbrandt reflected on CMU’s mission to be “a university of the church for the world.” This past summer, Jordon Zimmerly and Jonah Langelotz of the CMU men’s soccer team answered that calling when they travelled to South America as part of the Manitoba to Ecuador project.
The project, founded by Steinbach Regional Secondary’s Mark Reimer, seeks to bring Manitoban soccer players to Puerto Lopez, Ecuador each summer to work with the Los Canarios soccer club. Freddy Soto, the club’s manager, has established the club on the motto, “Honesty. Integrity. Respect.” – character traits that are valued in a community plagued by poverty, hopelessness, and substance abuse.
“The whole purpose of his program is to provide young boys, some of whom come from pretty rough homes, with role models for life,” explains Reimer.
Langelotz echoes Reimer’s analysis: “The club expects to not only produce good footballers, but more importantly, good people. It is a way to plant some healthy lifestyle seeds in the community.”
When asked about needs in Ecuador and how Canadians can help the families involved with Los Canarios, Langelotz, a student studying International Development Studies (IDS) at CMU, was quick to view the situation through an IDS lens. “Food and healthcare are huge issues in communities like Puerto López. Many of the people are in dire economic situations which have in turn led to an obvious presence of malnutrition,” Langelotz says. “Working towards generating funds to help local people buy land to grow healthy crops seems very practical. This way, we can meet those in need half-way and provide them with the tools to move forward. It would ultimately empower them with the opportunity to be healthy – to sow and in turn reap.”
Another way the program has assisted the young men is with the opportunity to learn and converse in the English Language. “English as a second language can provide new opportunities,” says Reimer. “Tourism is booming in Puerto López, and if you speak English you have opportunities in employment and in a whole range of educational opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Each day, the two CMU athletes spent their mornings in Spanish-language classes, volunteered at a day-care over the lunch-break, and spent afternoons working with the football club. “Practices were usually divided into the two separate age groups. Jonah and I worked with the younger ones while the more experienced coaches ran training with the older group,” shared Zimmerly.
Langelotz and Zimmerly also took part in a friendly match when Los Canarios hosted a local club. The two Blazers played alongside an Ecuadorian professional and a few semi-professional players in the match. The cherry-on-top came early in the match for Langelotz when he netted the game’s first goal for his adopted club – a real highlight for the second-year midfielder.
For more information about this project, visit the Manitoba to Ecuador blog at www.manitobatoecuador.wordpress.com
Written by Athletics Director Russell Willms for CMU