Members of the Calgary Police Service and Drop-In Centre residents met at McDougall Park in Bridgeland on Saturday morning for a game of soccer promoting goodwill.

Temba Watungwa, a Drop-In Centre employee who coaches the Drop-In team, extended the invitation to police. “We want to bridge the gap between the homeless population and the Calgary police,” explained Watungwa. “This is one little step towards that.”

Watungwa says his side has been playing together every Saturday morning for the last three months and it’s healthy for the players to spend time away from the centre. “Every three hours that I have the guys out of the building, it’s a positive distraction for them.”

Acting Staff Sergeant Graeme Smiley suited up for the CPS squad and says Saturday’s game was unprecedented. “We’ve actually played some charity soccer matches before against kids and different community groups but this is a first, playing the fellows from the Drop-In Centre.”

“We were thrilled that they reached out to us.”

Smiley said that while the action on the pitch was competitive, the game brought into focus what the sides have in common instead of their differences. “We all share our love of the game. We may come from different walks of life but we share our love for soccer.”

“At the end of the day, policing is a service industry job. These kinds of relationships, you can’t put a number on them as to how valuable they are.”

Watungwa says he hopes to make the game an annual event.