London Jr. Mustangs Football Association

Fifteen minutes in a doctor’s office can change your life. In December 2015, whilst living in Germany, my husband David was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme Stage 4 brain cancer. I was 46 and he was 48. We had 4 youngish children, none of whom had lived in Canada before. We were told to get our affairs in order and choose a country to permanently relocate to. Neither of us were German and we were only there as expats. David is from Scotland and myself from London, Ontario. So we chose London, Ontario to prepare for David's fight through cancer. Our oldest James was going into grade 11 and boy was I nervous for him. Right in the middle of high school, never playing any Canadian sports, having a father who was very ill, life was tough and uncertain for sure. When you're an adolescent boy it's hard enough, but when your father cannot support you like other fathers can it's even more difficult. I explained our situation and signed James up for the Jr. Mustangs football program. They found that he had been a soccer goal keeper in his previous high school and showed him how to kick a football and the rest was history. He was taken on as a relief kicker for the Jr. Mustangs football team. He also kicked for his new high school and quickly became hooked on the game. With this exposure, unbelievably James was scouted and is now currently entering his second year as a University of Waterloo Warrior, on a partial athletic football scholarship. He has just flourished mostly due to the patience, perseverance of dedicated coaches, and volunteers that run the Jr. Mustangs Football Association here in London Ont. Fast forward to today, our youngest son, Owen now 11 years old has also become a Jr. Mustang, again with very little football experience and under coach Bruno's guidance is developing a love for the game. David is still fighting through brain cancer and we have been extremely lucky with advancing medical care that he has received however, unlike most fathers, David is unable to work with Owen on his game. For coach Bruno of the Jr. Mustangs, this does not matter. He and others at the association work with all the boys, mentoring, advising, instructing and caring for them in the cold, in the rain, in the sun and the heat. I am just so grateful to this organization for the sense of normalcy they brought to my boys’ formative years. I know our family is not alone in the support we have received. The association accepts over 275 youths, and if the parents need help - the association finds a way to support vulnerable youth like my boys, for whatever their reasons might be. Lack of transport? A coach will help you out. Lack of finance? There are subsidies available. Single parents? A coach or volunteer will take extra time with that particular boy making sure that he stays on track in practice and through the games. Giving all a sense of belonging and development which is so very important to build youth character. Now the Jr. Mustang Football Association is asking for our help with a specific goal and that is to find a field of their own to hold practices and games. This takes resources that they just don't have. They have been using the University of Western Ontario's pitch which has become very expensive for them and they are struggling to remain there. Optimally they are hoping to purchase a field that they could use exclusively as the association has been expanding to include many age groups (teams) from 10 years to 19 years. What a great way for young boys to spend their time. Not only do the boys learn a skill, they also learn teamwork, inclusiveness, discipline and confidence. As this association is not for profit and relies on volunteers, the boys also learn the importance of taking the skills they themselves have and in the future learn to give back to their communities via coaching or becoming an involved parent. I hope Lerners can also see the value this association has on today's young boys and thank you in advance for your consideration.

Jennifer

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