When Salomao Santos moved to New Brunswick from Brazil, his dream was to bring people together with soccer.
After three years of trying to organize a match during the pandemic, Santos's dream is finally coming true.
Newcomers and soccer-lovers from across the province are gathering in Chipman today for the first International Friendly Mixed Soccer Match.
"I think it will be a remarkable thing for everyone," said Santos.
Santos moved to Chipman in 2019 after securing a job with J.D. Irving Ltd. His wife and three children couldn't join him for more than 10 months after he arrived.
He said at first he was concerned by the difference in language and by the weather in Canada, and he thought back to the times he would play soccer with his friends and family in Brazil.
Santos said he wanted to encourage others to play the sport and bring the community together.
On Saturday on a village field, about 35 participants will represent Brazil, Finland, Ukraine, Canada, the United States and Australia
They will compete in at least three matches.
Santos said the event is being made possible with support from the Rural Settlement Network for the Grand Lake Area, the Multicultural Association of New Brunswick and JDI.
"When we dream alone it's difficult, but when we share our dream it's easier to accomplish," he said.
The event will be even more special now that he gets to share the day with his family, he said.
"I'm super excited for him and for our community," Leah Stevenson, an integration services co-ordinator with the New Brunswick Multicultural Association, told Information Morning on Friday
She said Santos was the first Brazilian newcomer in Chipman and pitched the idea for the soccer match soon after his arrival in the village, where the newcomer population grew to 80 during the pandemic.
She expects the soccer tournament will become an annual event,
"We're pretty excited because this is much more than we ever anticipated," said Stevenson.