Harry Manson Inducted Into Soccer Hall Of Fame
The story of First Nation's soccer player Harry Manson (Xul-si-malt) and his team, the Nanaimo Indian Wanderers, begins in the early 1890's at a time when interest in soccer was rapidly growing in the coal-producing region around the town of Nanaimo on eastern Vancouver Island.
The most outstanding of the indigenous players was Xul-si-malt (One-who-leaves-his-mark), born in 1879, who was compelled at an early age to assume the English name "Harry Manson". At the age of 18 he made his competitive debut in a heated rivalry between the Nanaimo Thistles and Snuneymuxw.
The Nanaimo Thistles recruited him into their line up and they reached the final of the British Columbia Intermediate Challenge Cup against Victoria YMCA. Two years later, Manson was convinced that they had the necessary talent to compete against the best intermediate teams in B.C. and formally organized the Nanaimo Indian Wanderers AFC.
Mansons' athletic abilities and his leadership qualities on the pitch earned him the captaincy of the Wanderers. In 1903, Nanaimo would form an all-star team to compete for the senior Challenge Cup. Eventually Nanaimo triumphed and Manson and his friends became the first indigenous players to win a B.C. Provincial Championship.
On November 9, 2014, a group of 14 of the Manson family and friends attended the induction ceremony in Vaughan, Ontario. The Mansons, Emmy, Trey, Dean, Harriet, Gary, Donna, Jerome, Meade, Mia, Beckie Wesley and Adam along with Robert Janning and his parents traveled on the weekend of November 7th, 8th and 9th, to Toronto and attended the events.
Emmy comments, “The journey to witness my great grandfather, Harry Manson, being inducted into the Hall of Fame has been life changing. I had limited knowledge about him as he died long before I was born. It wasn't until Robert Janning called me one day five and a half years ago and asked me, ‘Are you related to Harry Manson?’”
Robert was researching a book he was writing and had come across information about Harry Manson.
Robert continues the story, “I first became aware of Harry Manson and his place in soccer history several years ago while researching my book, Westcoast Reign: The British Columbia Soccer Championships 1892-1905.
I discovered that Harry was a gifted athlete whose soccer career was uniquely distinguished in several respects. However, it was his exemplary outlook on life at a time when the attitudes of the world around him were rife with prejudice that proved to be the impetus for nominating Harry.
All Harry Manson wanted to do was play soccer. The colour of teammates' or opponents' skin was never an issue for Harry, and it was his prowess on the field that made him a frequently sought-after player by non-Native teams.
Every community needs heroes to look up to. Every community needs role models to emulate. By inducting Harry Manson into the Soccer Hall of Fame, we are bridging the gap of disparity that has separated First Nations and Canadians for far too long. Today, we formally recognize a Snuneymuxw hero, a First Nations role model, and a Canadian Soccer Hall of Famer.”
Emmy continues, “Here we are many years later with a relative who is now a Hall of Famer. Robert has been a gift to our family and our SFN nation. With all his hard work, he was able to get my great-grandfather, Harry into the Soccer Hall of Fame. I am so blessed to have experienced this with my son and my father and my aunts and uncles and cousins who all traveled to Toronto.
I was overwhelmed with joy as we sang our traditional songs to the room of over 200 people. Adam danced and escorted the Hall of Fame members into the room and my Uncles Gary and Robert were able to share a few words with the audience in the room.
This story has been featured on CBC Radio and The National. We as a nation, as a people need to have stories of greatness and overcoming adversity. I am proud to say I have that in my blood lineage. My great-grandfather was a true warrior and a solid soccer player that I believe has been passed down to many of our family members.
What a legacy he has left us with; that our children and grandchildren can dream and vision themselves one day as a Hall of Famer. My only wish is that the entire nation and my family could have witnessed this historic event.
I want to raise my hands to all those in the community who supported my family's fund-raising efforts to attend this event. Without all of the support many of us wouldn’t have been able to attend. Huycha Siem”
Full Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzOdeAEhFzs
For Robert Janning’s full write up see: http://www.straight.com/news/771976/diary-weekend-soccer-hall-fame