BMO runs an equipment drive for youth soccer players

The program is part of the bank's larger grassroots strategy around MLS sponsorship, which is focused on removing barriers to play.

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The Bank of Montreal wants Quebec soccer fans to see it as more than just another sponsor of the sport.

BMO has long sponsored all three of Canada’s MLS franchises – the Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC and CF Montreal (formerly the Montreal Impact) – but it has also had various community activations in and around those cities designed to “go back to the grassroots of soccer” and grow the game, according to Sylvain Dufresne, VP and head of creative at FCB Montreal.

Now, the bank is telling the story about its latest effort. This past August, BMO and FCB Montreal launched an equipment drive in Greater Montreal, encouraging people to donate gear that was ill-fitting or unused by dropping it off at the bank’s branches, the CF Montreal boutique and during an event at Stade Saputo, with the donation of a piece of equipment granting admission to that event.

Through the drive, more than 10,000 pieces of soccer equipment were collected, cleaned and catalogued by BMO. That equipment was then posted to an online marketplace where more than 2,500 kids were allowed to “shop” for up to four items, free of charge, that they needed in order to play soccer. Those items were then delivered directly to the kids.

The goal of the endeavour is to break down one of the primary barriers to youth who want to get into organized sports, which is the cost of equipment, Dufresne says.

This is not the first time that BMO has tried to boost the game through activations in specific communities. In 2019, it supported youth soccer in Quebec through a program that repurposed old jerseys for soccer nets, and in the same year, it replanted the turf that was being replaced at Toronto’s BMO Field in Keelesdale Park, a locus for youth soccer in the city.

It will also not be the last, according to Dufresne: the equipment drive was the first iteration of a multi-year strategy conceived by FCB Montreal.

“BMO is the primary sponsor of CF Montreal, but most fans don’t recognize that they are more than just a name on the jersey,” Dufresne says. “BMO is a bigger part of the soccer community in Quebec and they really want to make sure that they make a difference within that community.”

UM handled media for the campaign.