You know, as proud Torontonians, we’re always raving about all things great in the city. Well, let’s just take a moment to talk about (and appreciate) MLSE Foundation and its Change the Game initiative. To brush up your memory, MLSE Foundation is the official charity of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Argos and Toronto FC.

Last month we told you how MLSE Foundation, in collaboration with the Raptors, brought the Midnight Basketball League back. That led us to discover all the amazing community programs MLSE Foundation is running. Of the many that intrigued us, the one on our radar today is the Hockey Coaches Education Program.

Designed and executed in partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the GTHL and Scotiabank, the program allows Black, Indigenous and other racialized youth (ages 16 – 27) to obtain Coach Level 1 certification for free.

Leafs hockey program
Photo via MLSE Foundation

Change the Game is centered around creating equity for youth through the power of sport. The idea is that on the playing field, they are all just players with tremendous potential. 

To dive deeper into the issues the youth face, MLSE Foundation launched an extensive Change the Game research study a while back to better understand sport equity for youth. A primary finding of the research was that BIPOC youth needed to feel more included and welcomed into sport to increase participation and engagement. “Organizations that respect my culture” and “coaches that look like me” being a key determinant of youth feeling welcome.

To make youth feel more welcome, and to change the face of Hockey, MLSE Foundation now aims to increase representation and inclusivity in the teams. And this culture doesn’t just extend to players but also to coaches of underrepresented racial backgrounds. Hence, the Hockey Coaches Education Program!

Talking about the program, Mark Fraser, a bi-racial former Leafs defenceman and now the team’s Player Development Lead, said, “The Leafs are committed to diversify coaching to provide visible representation among the players and the coaching staff.” 

hockey program
Photo via MLSE Foundation

Fraser further added, “It’s important that racialized youth are provided with mentors, adults who can relate and understand and, more importantly, react appropriately when a racial incident occurs, something that is lacking in youth hockey.”

The program focuses on the trainee’s personal, academic and professional growth. MLSE Foundation has also partnered with GTHL to provide  participants with coaching and educational opportunities for the next level of certification.

Given that MLSE Foundation has a Home Ice Hockey program which allows over 350 passionate young players to unravel their potential, the coaching program seems like the logical next step.

Want to be a part of the amazing Change the Game initiative? Enroll here. And supporters head here