BMO Kicks Off Nationwide Youth Soccer Program

· BMO Team of the Week recognizes youth soccer teams with the largest grand prize of its kind in Canada including $125,000 field refurbishment and trip to see Toronto FC or Vancouver Whitecaps FC
· Champion to be crowned this summer when Canadians cast their vote to select their favourite team
· New BMO study shows one in three families across the country has a child enrolled in soccer this year, more than double that of any other sport

BMO Financial Group has launched a major national soccer program called BMO Team of the Week—a contest open to young soccer players across the country —that will award 15 youth teams and give them the chance to win the grand prize which includes $125,000 to refurbish their community soccer pitch. BMO also announced findings from a new survey of parents that shows soccer is twice as popular as any youth sport in Canada.

For the next 15 weeks, Canadian soccer coaches and parents can nominate their favourite youth soccer team at BMOsoccer.com. BMO Team of the Week winners will be announced every week starting on April 20 and will receive $500, track suits and a donation to a local charity.

Each of the winning teams will become finalists for the grand prize and all Canadians will be able to vote for their favourite team starting August 1 at BMOsoccer.com. The BMO Team of the Week 2011 Champion will receive a $125,000 field refurbishment, a trip to see a Toronto FC or Vancouver Whitecaps FC home game and $5,000 their chosen charity.

“BMO Team of the Week recognizes teams coast to coast for their achievements both on and off the field,” said Sandy Bourne, Vice-President, Sponsorships, BMO Financial Group.

“BMO is committed to making a difference in the communities in which we work and live. We are dedicated to supporting ‘The Beautiful Game’ and growing the soccer stars of tomorrow, through our sponsorship of over 10,000 young players from over 700 teams across the country.”

“Soccer has long been the beloved sport of so many countries around the world, and is reaching new levels in Canada at both the youth and elite levels,” added Bourne. “All you need is a flat surface and a ball. This makes soccer one of the most accessible and affordable sports in the world, with an increasing participation rate among Canadians.”

Canadian Families Get a Kick Out of Soccer

In conjunction with the kick-off of BMO Team of the Week, BMO released a new study conducted by Leger Marketing that polled Canadian families about their involvement with soccer. The survey found:

· As the top team sport, soccer enrollment for kids is more than double that in hockey (33 per cent vs.16 per cent), or in baseball, basketball and swimming combined (27 per cent)
· Overall, 78 per cent of parents feel it is important to involve their children in team sports
· Almost all Canadian parents believe in the importance of local youth athletics to ensuring a healthy population

BMO Team of the Week Game Plan

BMO Team of the Week will acknowledge Canadian youth soccer teams age 7-12 for their accomplishments on and off the soccer pitch.

For the next 15 weeks, Canadian soccer coaches and parents can nominate their favourite soccer team by logging on to www.BMOsoccer.com.

A panel of judges will select a weekly winner based on four key pillars: team pride, spirit, involvement in the community and passion for the game.

BMO Team of the Week winners will then vie for the title of BMO Team of the Week 2011 Champion, to be selected by the Canadian public through online voting as of August 1

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