Playing competitive sports can be expensive for a family. Travel hotel rooms, gas, wear and tear on the family vehicle combined with registration for tournaments and scouting appearances can add up into the thousands for each season.
Its a stressful headache and opportunity that local soccer player Jack Crook and his father Ed know all too well. Jack has been playing soccer since he was six years old, starting his career on the fields at Windermere Elementary where he spent hours playing by himself before having friends join him.
It wasnt long before he started to improve his game, learning new skills and showing off new tricks, and eventually playing above his age group at a tournament in Cranbrook. Jack said it was there that he began to realize he had a passion for the sport, which scouts soon noticed, offering him a spot on the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy team for their U18 team, where he has been playing for the last two years.
Working hard to improve along the way, Jack has continued to foster a vision hes had since childhood.
It was always one of my goals to be a professional soccer player on television with all the highlights and stuff, from the age of nine or 10, he explained.
Last summer, Jack, a member of the Fort Chipewyan band in Northern Alberta, was recruited during the BC Games to play for an Aboriginal-only soccer team based out of Vancouver for the coming year and while that opportunity brought him one step closer to his dream, it brought with it thousands more dollars in expenses each year.
Playing on the team will require Jack and Ed to make regular trips to Vancouver for practices in addition to the teams plans of attending a tournament in Italy during the season. During an average year, Ed said Jack competes in as many as seven tournaments, which each cost in the neighbourhood of $500. Add in gas and hotels for each tournament and the total cost of each season is in the thousands of dollars, Jack said.
Making this even more difficult is that Ed works a minimum wage job at the local No Frills store where Jack also works one of his two part-time jobs.
Its very tough, Ed said. You got to kind of put things off to go to soccer and hopefully catch up with other things later on. Its always a challenge to say, OK, how much have we got, are we going to have enough? You got to think ahead and think, OK maybe we can hold off on this and well be able to go.
Its this financial difficulty that has led Jack to create a GoFundMe page asking for donations from the public to help fund his dream of playing professional soccer one day. People can donate to Jack online, which will go towards paying for his tournaments, equipment, travel and any other soccer-related costs.
Ed said the local community has been excellent with donations so far, with the Lions Club, Fairmont Pizza and the Shuswap Band all donating money to his cause.
His goal is to raise $5,000 through his campaign, which he said will go a long way.
It would be very helpful, he said. Wed be very grateful and it would be a lot easier for my dad and me, and would be much easier for me to train.
For now, Ed and Jack will continue working, saving every penny they can towards making Jacks dream become a reality. Through it all, Eds advice to his son has remained constant.
Dont worry, well get there, I always tell him, he said. Well make it somehow.
To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/2p8xgxxv.