The Ciman Family: Soccer, autism and a new life in Montreal

Laurent Ciman has always put family first.

In fact, family is the entire reason the Belgian defender is in Montreal. Ciman’s young daughter, Nina, is autistic, and Laurent and his wife, Diana, couldn’t find even the most basic forms of support for her in their native Belgium, where Ciman played until last winter.

The couple searched for where they could find optimal care for Nina, and Canada kept popping up. They didn’t necessarily expect to move to North America while Laurent was still playing, but an opportunity arose with the Impact last winter, prompting the Cimans to leave Belgian club Standard Liege for Montreal in January 2015.

Laurent, of course, quickly became a star on the field for the Impact, helping the club to the 2015 CONCACAF Champions League final, leading them to the playoffs and winning MLS Defender of the Year honors in his first year in Montreal.

It hasn’t always been smooth, but little Nina seems to be blossoming in Canada, too. With the help of Diana, Laurent and the Ciman’s youngest child, son Achille, Nina has made more progress in the one year the family has been in Quebec than she did in the five years she lived without solid care in Belgium.

The excellent Montreal Impact video department went behind the scenes with the Ciman family to chronicle their experience in Quebec, producing a heartwarming piece about Diana, Nina, Laurent and Achille as they manage Nina’s autism in their new home. Watch it above.