BBC to air radio feature on B.C. First Nations soccer pioneer Harry Manson

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      The Harry Manson story is about to gain international recognition.

      The BBC World Service will air a radio documentary about the pioneering B.C. First Nations soccer player early Saturday (July 4) at 1:05 a.m. PDT (4:05 a.m. EST, 9:05 a.m. GMT; go here for further details about podcast).

      The 55-minute program, Sportshour, will feature several stories about Canadian heroes in advance of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 final taking place in Vancouver on Sunday (July 5).

      Manson, known as Xul-si-malt (One who leaves his mark), was born on the Nanaimo Indian Reserve in 1879. He became captain of the all-Native Nanaimo Indian Wanderers team (which won the city championship in 1904 and also made it to the provincial semifinals) and was one of the first indigenous players to play in, and win, a provincial soccer championship, in 1903.

      Manson also played for all three senior Nanaimo teams, the only aboriginal player to have done so.

      He died in 1912 at age 32 in a coal-train accident in a Nanaimo railyard.

      Xul-si-malt broke colour barriers at a time when Native players were jeered and threatened by spectators on Vancouver Island. Due largely to the persistent efforts of Vancouver resident Robert Janning, Manson has been inducted into the Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame, the national Soccer Hall of Fame in Ontario, and, most recently (June 17), Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary.

      The B.C. Sports Hall of Fame has passed on inducting Manson two years in a row. He has one remaining year of eligibility.

      Janning earlier told the Straight of the BBC documentary: "He's going global; it's just amazing." Janning came across Manson's story while researching his 2012 book about the early days of soccer in B.C., Westcoast Reign: The British Columbia Soccer Championships 1892-1905.