Kiera is a player with passion for soccer that knows no bounds.
As a youngster she faced adversity through cancer that led to her becoming a leg amputee. A significant barrier for most and especially for someone hungry to continue playing soccer, a sport she had grown up playing since a young age. Having recently moved to Calgary, Alberta from British Columbia Kiera sought to continue her passion in the sport but found a barrier in soccer policies that limited her inclusion. She and her family were told that registration in soccer would not be possible because of her blade and that it posed a danger to other players. A bombshell that hit the youngster hard.
Now when some people may have laid down the gauntlet and accepted that it may not be possible to continue her passion, Kiera and her mom Daphne, took up the gauntlet. Both led a call to seek support and why the decision was so conclusive.
Kiera describes the moment as ‘shocking, I have grown up learning and having to adapt to challenges around me with sports, like finding new ways to do specific drills, but never have I had the added challenge of being told I could not play because I have a prosthetic leg. I have never given up before and getting a straight ‘no you cannot play’. In my eyes, it was others giving up on me. Sport has taught me to be determined and to persevere through challenges. This is not the first nor last challenge I will overcome, and I choose to be positive in the hope that others will learn too’.
After the initial rejection, Kiera reached out to John Clubb, Manager of Grassroots Development at Alberta Soccer and a community champion when it comes to accessible soccer with a wealth of experience in this area. As a Soccability Canada leader in western Canada, John presented a proposal to have the prosthesis dressed in padding to support the safety of all. With the support of coaches and others, the new dressing was deemed supportive for her participation and Kiera is now able to participate in league games with the approval of Alberta Soccer. Watching her last weekend with her Calgary Glenmore team, John was delighted to see how no one appeared to notice or take exception to Kiera.
“It was so pleasing to see how everyone, especially the opposition just accepted Kiera and gave her no quarter. Soccer truly is making great strides to be accessible and inclusive and the message behind this story is, if at first you are told no, then ask again and let’s work to find a resolution to get players in the game.”
Now Kiera, through her drive and determination, will continue to join her teammates on the field and play with her same passion for the game.
Stories like Kiera’s are not unique, but they are powerful. In 2014 a young male player in Ontario faced similar barriers. Playing Competitive soccer until cancer forced the amputation of his lower left leg the young man knew he still wanted to compete but hit a wall when local officials told him he couldn’t play because the prosthesis was a risk to himself and others. It was only through the collaboration of Ontario Soccer staff, the insurance company, a visit to the rehabilitation hospital and the guidance of a European football association that removed this barrier. He completed a great season, one competition level below his prior season, and there was not one complaint, not one issue and not one barrier.
Players all deserve a chance to play so let’s make sure we do our part as sport leaders.
Thank you to John Clubb for this insightful story.