Freestyle soccer gurus bring Freeze Out Bullying program to Calgary for first time
Kayden Abel, 19, has played soccer since he was 4 years old, and now practices up to five hours a day. Not only is soccer his passion, but he said the sport got him through some tough times.
“When I was in high school I got bullied quite a bit and it kind of changed my whole aspect on things,” Kayden said. “It made me shy and really self conscious, and freestyle was a way for me to escape the stresses of school and being bullied.”
Kayden said he started experimenting with freestyle soccer after he met soccer stars Steve Elias and Jamie Bruno at a performance at the Calgary Stampede two years ago. Elias and Bruno have travelled all over North America putting on soccer shows that teach kids about bullying.
“In 2007, I was hearing a lot in the news about kids killing themselves and bullying was such a big issue,” Elias said. “I thought that maybe I could use freestyle soccer to create a unique program that would engage children, and at the same time try to convey a positive message. That’s how we ended up creating the Freeze Out Bullying program.”
Partnering with the Calgary Minor Soccer Association, Elias and Bruno have brought their Freeze Out Bullying campaign to Calgary for the first time. Tony Wooster, president of Calgary Minor Soccer, said having an interactive performance, which includes freestyle soccer tricks, contests with the audience and on-stage games with the kids, is a great way to spread an anti-bullying message.
“It’s a good way to help kids recognize some of the things they may not know are actually bullying,” said Wooster. “These guys are really making an impact, and as part of Calgary Minor Soccer, we want to make that impact as well.”