Good work, I saw you hustling down the boards over there.
Good work, good job out there Want some knuckles? Oh yeah, Oh yeah, Oh yeah
AISHAH SHERI: P-A-H-L ProAction Hockey League started six years ago. Initially, the program
started because we wanted to have the police officers integrate with the community. So
it started as a grassroots movement. Initially we had 69 boys. In the last six years our
program has gone from 69 players to now over 135 with 100 on the waiting list. From 0 per
cent female ratio to now over 35 per cent and growing.
CONSTABLE DAVE BESCO: I love hockey. I grew up playing hockey. And among these kids there
is a great desire to play hockey. And if it wasn’t for this program they would never think
about playing hockey. The affordability is just not there in this community. It’s a low
income neighbourhood and we’re providing equipment, coaching, you name it, we’re providing everything.
When they first start, they don’t have that confidence, they’re afraid to go on the ice.
It’s intimidating trying to skate on two edges that you’re used to walking on your feet.
And you’ve never done it before and you’re out there with 130 kids and you’re trying
to learn how to skate. And by the time the games are starting — it’s a fast-paced game
— they’re confidence level is through the roof and a smile on their face the whole time.
CONSTABLE STEVE HANKS: It’s hockey. I’m a Canadian boy. I grew up playing this game
so it’s just an honour to be able to be on my skates and during a shift and helping out
the kids and teaching them the game that I grew up loving.
BESCO: I worked other units and elsewhere at 54 Division and never have I seen work
with the community in this aspect before. BIBI AISHAH: I like playing it because you
work as a team and makes goals and I like the skating part.
RUFINA ABDURUSUL: I feel happy every time we score and everybody is cheering and I feel
so happy because we’re really working together and we’re trying our best. We’re improving
a lot. SALMAH SHAIKH: It was last game and everyone
was all in a circle and I just took the puck and shot.
INTERVIEWER: And you scored? SHAIKH: Yeah.
BESCO: Here we give them a positive, and sometimes it is their first interaction with police,
and it’s a positive one and that’s what we want.
NAZERAH SHAIKH: Having the police officers as the coaches and as the mentors, I think
for me, I saw that when Salma, Salma’s my daughter and she’s on the 10-year-old team.
And she says ‘I have the best coach’ and then I talk to my niece who is on another team
and she says ‘No, I have the best coach.’ So they’re going at it and they both know
that the coaches are all police SHAIKH: My coaches are very fun. Inside the
locker room, they tie my laces, they help us put on all our stuff. And even if you’re
late they, like, quickly do your stuff and they like teamwork. You just do it together.
MUHAMMAD BASEER: My coach sometimes makes us laugh whenever we lose.
SHAIKH: In our culture the police are portrayed as people of power, you know, people of position.
But I think when they show that people of power and position can use that to benefit
the entire community, it becomes, they become more approachable and more real people. You
see the softer side to law enforcement, I think.
SHERI: On our sixth year, the integration between the community and police officers
is outstanding. Even after our program is finished, we have community, people coming
up to both staff as well as Toronto Police Service 54 Division and interacting with them
out in day-to-day society. We have our players saying ‘Hi, how are you… you were my coach,
do you remember me?’. So that integration level is huge and it shows volumes for our
program. BESCO: It’s changed my view of the community
as well and they teach me things as well as me teaching them to play hockey.