Many Portuguese families immigrated to Canada within the past century to seek a better life. As they continued their new life in Canada, sports (specifically soccer) played an important role in the maintenance and development of cultural values. Soccer has been a valued recreational pastime to Portuguese people for many years. The Kitchener Portuguese Club Inc. (KPCI/ Club) was only just beginning when some Portuguese men created a new soccer team aiming, from their opening kick-off, for higher goals and values.
Many of the Portuguese youth were born with that “soccer virus,” a “fever” for practicing this particular sport, often called the “Sport of the Crowds.” The “fever,” the necessity of training, the technique, the style, the show, the perfect physical and spiritual fitness and the spirit of working as a team were the motivating factors leading to the founding of our soccer team – “Os Leoes (The Lions)”.
Everyone in the community had heard about these young pioneers who would practice vigorously, gathering at Mr. Jose Silveira’s residence. This was the year of 1968. These young men were the beginning of the association that developed under the leadership of its first enthusiastic mentor.
After approximately 10 years of existence in Kitchener, this group of men set-up a soccer team in the community that would eventually become an important part of The Kitchener Portuguese Club Inc. These pioneers were the “generation group,” the fathers of this association, born with the enthusiasm for playing soccer and practicing sports. Below is a newspaper clipping of an interview with Mr. Jorge Silveira, the son of Mr. Jose Silveira, published in the Luso-Canadian weekly newspaper “Sol Português.” It is dated June 10th, 1994.
The Birth of a Corporation
Evolving from this soccer team and their sports practice, a wave of community interest and support was developing. This community interest led the association to organize a better administration team still formed around the same ideals, and from this group of people the first Organizing Committee was formed. After the Committee set in writing their common ideals and aspirations, a draft of the Club’s constitution was written. The Kitchener Portuguese Club Inc. was officially incorporated on August 4th, 1969, the original date of the club’s founding. The original group of soccer players and sponsors made the Club’s incorporation possible. This date will always stand out in the history of our club as the most important time frame for founding celebrations.
Building and Construction
The Kitchener Portuguese Club Inc. purchased land located at Westmount Road in Kitchener for almost $60,000. Along with this purchase, the Club saw a great period of growth and improvement that would not be matched over the next 25 years of its existence. The first three years of the Club’s existence saw:
- The building of the soccer field
- Barn demolition
- Improvements to the old farm house that acted as the club house at the time
- Building the actual structure that today houses the facilities of the club
A lot of hard work was involved in building the club house and its facilities. Words cannot express our deep gratitude to those who in one way or another helped to make this possible.
The Club’s grand opening date had finally arrived. Below is a picture of one of the Club’s honorary members at the opening ceremonies. We are sure that looking at this picture, every Club member will feel as happy and as proud as Mr. Alfredo da Silva felt that day as the building became ready for use and enjoyment by the Club members.
For 25 years, a long list of people Chaired the Boards that administered the Club’s activities. These people did not spare any efforts to be the ambassadors of our institution everywhere, carrying the dignity and good spirit of our culture. A large debt resulted from the construction which created many difficulties, even for the best administrative bodies of our association. In response, however, the Portuguese people joined together to tackle these difficulties by buying “partial ownership” shares, allowing the Club to pay its first mortgage fees. Later, in 1978, an addition was built to the Club house accommodating an area for small parties with a bar.
The folklore dancers of the Club have also been a large part of the Club since 1990.
Every year the Board of Directors has maintained a consistent schedule of activities in order to fund the current expenses of the Club. Over the past years, the Club’s financial health has been consolidated due to a greater number of activities and social events, resulting in more successful fundraising efforts.
Sporting events, from the very beginning (especially soccer events) have been the main bond of our association. The promotion of this sport has allowed us to enjoy great moments of quality soccer and has been a positive force in keeping the spirits up of our Club members.
Our team Os Leoes has brought to our Club many trophies and excellent soccer players which have made our name famous in the province.
Our cultural activities are almost exclusively devoted to preserve the folklore and popular dances of our native Portugal.
Some of our artistic shows have included beauty pageants “Miss Portuguese Kitchener-Waterloo,” some popular theatre performed by troops on transit, and our traditional celebrations of folklore, marching band contests, etc., set on dates like “Portugal Day.”
Social activities account for the greatest amount of community participation throughout the year. There is always a social dance at the Club with different live bands or DJ’s to enhance a special date like “Member’s Night,” “New Year’s Eve,” “Carnival” and more. Many of these socials are arranged on weekends when the premises are not rented for weddings or other special events.
These kinds of socials include a great number of important festivities well known for their fabulous dinners, prepared and served by the people that form part of the organizing committee and their friends. This is the case with “Mother’s Day,” “Festival of the Hunters,” and several other dates.
The Kitchener Portuguese Club Inc. has had a wonderful history and is continuing to foster the Portuguese culture in the local area, keeping Portuguese people together and providing a wellspring of cultural activities to share in.