Growing up in Ghana, Doug Koomson used to play soccer as much as he could. He got pretty good at it, and by the time he moved to Oakville, Ontario, his favourite sport became a great way to break down barriers that can make it difficult for new Canadians to integrate.
“When I came here, that’s how I made friends,” said Koomson, now a third-year kinesiology student. “Sports really give kids a chance to meet each other.”
Along with fellow students Mike Sartor and Justin Staffiere, Koomson is organizing the Human Kinetics Student Society’s annual Tri4Life event on March 30 at the St. Denis Centre. A mini indoor triathlon, the fundraiser requires participants to swim lengths, run laps and ride a stationary bike for 15 minutes of each activity.
For the third year in a row, all of the proceeds will go to ASSIST – Putting Kids in Sports, an area charity which raises money to help financially vulnerable families register their children in local minor sports associations.
Sartor, who grew up in Vaughan, Ontario, played hockey every winter and baseball every summer. He says athletics provided a great way to make lifelong friends and helped him develop a close bond with his father, also a sports enthusiast.
“I can’t imagine not being able to have had the same experience,” he recalls. “You can’t over emphasize how unfortunate it is that some kids never get the chance to play.”
Staffiere, who played baseball as a youth, said the aims of ASSIST are similar to the goals of his department, one of which is to encourage more people to participate in physical activity, as a way to create a healthier community.
“We try to reach out to the community,” he said. “It’s one of our priorities as a council.”
ASSIST board president Mike Dugal said he’s thrilled the HK students will be supporting the cause again.
“We’re extremely grateful that these students recognize the importance of what we’re trying to accomplish as an organization,” he said. “The funds raised through this event will help a lot of kids play sports who otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to play, and the long term benefits of that are almost immeasurable.”
Registration for the event is $35, or $100 for a three-person team, but participants are encouraged to raise as much as they can. All participants will receive a Tri4Life t-shirt. To register, or to obtain more information, contact Sartor at firstname.lastname@example.org or Koomson at email@example.com.