Richmond FC scholars embody spirit of club

By Don Fennell

Published 3:29 PDT, Mon July 6, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

The Richmond FC scholarship selection committee faced a daunting task: choose just five individuals from an extensive field of worthy graduating players.

It wasn’t enough to simply be a good soccer player. Or to be a high achiever in the classroom. As reflected by the award recipients, being well-rounded was a necessity. 

“Definitely all five bring a high level of commitment to soccer, and have spent an extended amount of time as part of the club,” committee member Fred Well says. “And all five have been very involved in their schools and community—but in different ways.”

They’re also different players, bringing their own set of talents to the patch. Some even participated a different levels. All, however, were key contributors to their teams—some as vocal leaders, others quietly making a difference.

Their efforts at school and in the community were carried out similarly. 

“They’re all the kind of kids who are always there, who you can always depend on,” says Well, who besides coaching an under-17 boys’ team also teaches grades 6 and 7. 

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Richmond FC felt it was particularly essential to maintain the awards. 

“It’s really important to recognize these individuals for all they’ve contributed over the past years,” explains Well. “It also reflects on us seeing ourselves as more than just a soccer club, but an organization that strives to be involved in the community.”

During the pandemic, the club has hosted fundraisers in support of the Richmond Food Bank.

Well says it’s been difficult for players to have to spend so much time indoors, away from teammates and friends.

“Soccer, by its nature, provides an opportunity for people to come together,” he says. “I know with my under-17 team we tried to stay in contact after games were cancelled. Even now as we’re just getting back on the field in the first stages of re-entry, we’re still only able to work on individual skills but everybody is so excited to just kick the ball and see teammates. I think the time off makes you appreciate things more.”

Richmond FC board chair Rein Weber says this year, as much as ever, the five graduating players being recognized with scholarships are exceptional people. 

“We are very proud to recognize these five individuals who have worked incredibly hard at school (despite losing the last term) and, at the same time, made a commitment to our community in various different volunteer roles,” he says, noting they embody what the club is trying to promote. 

“As a club it is important for us to engage the community—to make sure that if there is a need, we do our part and our players help lift others up and lend a hand. That’s when we all become stronger.”

Joel Hempel (McMath)

Joel shows leadership on and off the field, demonstrates excellent sportsmanship and gives 110 per cent effort. He is described as a fantastic player and a great person. Joel’s activities off the field include participating in the interact club, coding club and science club. This year Joel worked with Habitat for Humanity on a project in Costa Rica. In the future, Joel wants to get involved in youth soccer coaching.

Tom MacIntyre (McMath)

Tom has been a player with Richmond FC for 12 consecutive seasons and was described as a joy to coach. He had fantastic team spirit and sportsmanship and showed a high level of commitment to his team in practices and games. Tom has been a strong all-around student who was on the honour roll every year. He has been involved in student leadership, was a peer tutor, and has been a member of the Richmond Youth Concert Band.

Will Rasmussen (Burnett)

Will has been with Richmond FC as a player for 13 years. He has been the kind of strong and reliable player that every team needs, but whose true value is often not recognized. He received the top athlete award in Grade 8 and played on his school volleyball and basketball teams. Will has served his school community as a peer tutor, a member of the Breakers that Believe student leadership group and an orientation guide for Burnett-bound Grade 7 students.

Ryan Sadra (Vancouver College)

Ryan has shown outstanding leadership on and off the field, and was the captain of his team for the last two years. He was an active and impassioned advocate for his teammates, motivating everyone to do their best. Ryan has been a first class honours student and a member of the honour society every year since Grade 9. In addition to playing hockey and basketball, he has volunteered in various initiatives to help the homeless. Last year he went on a trip to Peru to build a home for an impoverished family.

Ben Williams (Boyd)

Ben has been an accomplished and dedicated player with Richmond FC for the last 13 seasons. Playing soccer has taught him how to be his best self, on and off the pitch. Ben was a field marshal at the Coastal Cup finals held in Richmond last year and has been an active participant in Richmond FC’s food, sock and blanket drives. Outside of the classroom, Ben is a passionate participant in his school community and has been a part of interact club, business club, grad committee and student council.

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