When Zia Saleh first stepped into the Eastwood School gym last year to play ball hockey with troubled children, it was one of the toughest thing he has ever done.
“There was just no trust, no respect from them,” Saleh said Sunday. “But I knew I could make a difference if I kept coming back.”
And weeks later, after diligently arriving after school twice a week, playing with the kids in Grades 4 to 6 as “an equal in a safe, non-judgmental environment,” the situation turned around.
And so began Saleh’s program called Sports For Hope, which later added Delton and Norwood schools as he convinced others to volunteer to coach the kids.
Saleh credits the Ismaili ball hockey league, where he both plays and coaches, with giving him his start at developing teamwork and leadership skills.
“We got involved in raising money for the Kakooga primary school in Kenya for textbooks and sports equipment, and we receive video from our correspondent about the students and their lives,” said Saleh. “They want to go to school but many have to leave after Grade 4 to work on the family farm.