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Liam Grenier and Akbar Rizvi sit behind a table in the ALC, smiling

Liam Grenier (left) and Akbar Rizvi (right) soccer club tabling, 2019 / Photo by Mikhail Razon

UM’s soccer club re-starts May 1

New president Akbar Rizvi invites anyone interested to register

April 27, 2022 — 

The University of Manitoba’s soccer club, which has been on hiatus since the beginning of the pandemic, is restarting May 1, open to anyone who is interested in playing, says new president Akbar Rizvi.

Rizvi grew up in the Middle East in the UAE and Pakistan, where soccer is, as he puts it, “the top sport.” He explains that soccer has a universal appeal and is fun to play at both recreational and professional levels, one of the reasons he fell in love with it.

He first got involved with the UM’s soccer club in 2018, with the simple of goal of having fun and playing recreationally. He enjoyed the fact that the club wasn’t exclusive—that it was open to players of all skill levels— from complete beginners to those who are quite experienced, and everyone in between.

For most of the pandemic it didn’t make sense to re-start soccer club, even when case counts were low, as it usually takes place in a 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. time slot during lunch hour. Without students physically attending classes and looking for something to do during their lunch break, running the club just wasn’t practical.

But when classes switched back to in-person and more restrictions began to lift, Rizvi took the initiative to re-start the club. “There was a lot of demand for it,” he explains “I felt it had to come back.”

Rizvi anticipates the club operating similarly to how it did pre-pandemic.

“If possible, we might do more locker rooms to keep it socially distanced if we get the demand,” he says. But, in general, the goal is to “get back into the old routine and just streamline things going in,” he explains.

A group of soccer plays stand and sit together on a field smiling

UM Soccer club end of season shot, 2019

For those who didn’t participate in soccer club in the past, Rizvi says to expect to be split into teams based on the number of people who attend. There are no slide tackles or pushing allowed, he adds, a rule to the executives have implemented to “keep it safe and fun for everyone.”

Everyone is welcome at soccer club—it isn’t gender-specific or based on experience.

“Even if you think you’re at a very beginner level and you wouldn’t fit in because it’s more advanced, it’s nothing like that,” Rizvi explains, “All you have to do is be there and we’ll fit you in and you’ll have fun. Anyone is welcome.”

He adds that what he loves about soccer is the fact that it’s “more of a skills-based thing.”

“You don’t have to be a certain height or physique,” he says, pointing out that famous Argentinian player Lionel Messi is “a 5’ 6’’ scrawny guy . . . but he’s the best in the world.”

Soccer is a well-rounded sport, he explains, “anyone can get into it and get good at it.”

He hopes that UM students who play soccer or who are interested in learning, consider signing up for summer semester. After signing up at the ALC front desk, participants can attend the club on a drop-in basis. More information will be available to at the time of registration.

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