“You play in the rain, in the sun, on the dry dirt, it can be risky (considering all the things you can step on) but the love of the game motivates everyone to play the game for hours in various conditions,” Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne said soccer lovers in Jamaica, the country mainly known for the sport of cricket, played well, “considering there was no official coach.”
“It was a matter of what you saw on TV, or the older guys who were more experienced and taught the younger kids,” he said.
Hawthorne also said growing up, he learned that you can’t accomplish a goal by yourself. His goal today is to send soccer shoes to his hometown in Jamaica before August 1, which is the beginning to a weeklong holiday, Emancipation Day. His colleagues with the YRP have helped him collect 15 pairs of cleats, 10 soccer balls, and different coloured jerseys.
Residents can also donate old or new soccer shoes by dropping them off at the YRP headquarters drop box located at 45 Don Hillock Drive in Aurora. So far, Hawthorne said he has received mostly soccer shoes for young kids, and is looking for cleats that could fit youth, 17 years and older.
Hawthorne said he is grateful to his organization and to his friends who have supported his goals in giving something he has dreamt of giving to his hometown ever since he put on his first pair of soccer shoes in Canada.
“I wasn’t able to play properly with soccer shoes because it felt weird. I’m more skilled without soccer shoes,” Hawthorne said, laughing, “but jokes aside, when I purchased my first soccer shoes, it was a sign of a small accomplishment, and I often thought of my friends, thinking if I only could send this one pair of soccer shoes back home.”
28-years after Hawthorne’s touchdown in Canada, the once-young boy who didn’t have soccer shoes, now serves and protects York Region with a focus on investigating fraudulent activity such as romance scams.
“Having my Bachelor’s degree in justice studies paid for by the YRP, having a job, having soccer shoes, I think I received more than I asked for,” Hawthorne said.
“What better way to say thanks.”