It was on a cold rainy day back in June of 2008 when the Lions Cup inaugural tournament brought together it’s first round of friends, family, and supporters to play in what has turned into Montreal’s largest footy festival & tournament, GOAL MTL.
Burgundy Lion had just opened their doors when co-owner and GOAL initiatives Founder Paul Desbaillets set his sights on hosting an event that would raise money for Little Burgundy. A neighborhood near and dear to his heart, having spent much of his youth and at the time had just opened what is recognized today as one of Montreal’s most notable pubs.
We had no idea what we were doing but we knew we wanted to give back to the community. – Paul Desbaillets, Founder of GOAL initiatives
Soccer being what it was in Canada back in 2008, it wasn’t easy to put together a crew of people willing to play in a virtually unknown sport but thanks to amazing sponsors like Labatt, Molson, and Sleeman, Paul was able to pull together the event even though he claims that he never thought it would go further than that initial 1st edition.
A decade later, and thousands of dollars raised, the event itself has grown exponentially. The Lions Cup became GOAL MTL which can now be found in the portfolio of fundraising events produced by what is now known as GOAL initiatives; an organization that creates remarkable event experiences empowered by a collective of visionary partners to introduce sports into the lives of children and teens through youth programming and equip them with the tools they need to succeed on and off the field.
Giving back to the community was always a part of the mission statement but through the years the event has gone from raising nearly nothing to raising over 60k in 2018 alone and the foundation has given back to both local and international youth sports programs within Share the Warmth Montreal, Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre, Mtl Community Cares, Global Citizen, Right to Play, and Kanpe.
GOAL initiatives mission statement has evolved over the years but Paul has always firmly believed that giving back to youth sports programs is of utmost importance. “Children and teens are a must. You have to invest in youth if you want to help make a positive change on the world”says Paul. Sports are an important factor in child development, whether it be team building, managing stress, learning how to be a graceful winner, how to accept a loss and persevere, or improving self-esteem. It’s important that all communities, from war zones to children’s hospitals have access to youth sports programs, and GOAL initiatives intends on both funding and equipping as many of these amazing programs as possible.