Students have a variety of options when it comes to involvement with athletics at U of T, but not all options involve competing in a sport. U of T hosts its own chapter of the Right to Play foundation. Right to Play is an organization that helps kids play sports who would not otherwise have the opportunity.
Right to Play was founded in 1994 by Norwegian speed skater Johann Olav Koss who donated his bonuses from his three gold medals to Olympic Aid, the charity from which Right to Play evolved. Later, he flew to Eritrea, a country in Africa living in hunger, with sports equipment. This controversial move was seen negatively by Norwegian media, but positively by the Eritrean government, which was thankful for the athlete’s donation and for allowing kids to play like kids.
“I believe that we all have an obligation to help those in need,” said co-president Andrew Majuca. “Unfortunately, kids in disadvantaged areas… need our help to provide them the same opportunities that we are exposed to.”
The St. George campus club raises funds for the charity through events that it hosts throughout the year and by volunteering at other events throughout the city. This past year, the club helped to organize a street hockey exhibition match that holds the world record for the most players competing.
“In addition, we have partnered up with the University of Toronto Sports [and] Business Association in helping us raise funds with their first event this year,” said Majuca. “For the remaining of the school year, we will be volunteering to sell tickets during Leafs and Raptors games, as well as hold our own events.”
Among these events will be Play Day, where volunteers will host workshops in a school, and collaborate with other Right to Play clubs to hold a sporting event on the U of T campus.
“I personally got involved because its two main principles are ones that are very close to me, as well as to our team,” explained Majuca. “The use of sports to develop a variety of skills, as well as the use of these programs to help disadvantaged kids, are two causes that I have personally been exposed to. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to be active and in being teams throughout my life, building leadership, communication, discipline, and other skills along the way.
The Right to Play foundation typically supports sports for children living in countries abroad. However, the UTSG club, along with other Toronto-based Right to Play chapters, also focuses on hosting programs and workshops in local communities.
Through participation in the club, students have the opportunity to make differences in children’s lives while participating in the sports they love.