Nine selected for CFL’s Diversity in Football Program, including three former players

Photo courtesy: CFL

The CFL and its member clubs have selected nine participants for the Diversity in Football Program. Each team will welcome one additional individual representing a racialized group or an under-represented community. The four-week development program coincides with the start of training camps on May 15.

  • Montreal: Saadia Ashraf | Pointe-Claire, Que.
  • Ottawa: Nathan Taylor | Gatineau, Que.
  • Toronto: Darrell Adams | Mississauga, Ont.
  • Hamilton: Brian Simmons | Binbrook, Ont.
  • Winnipeg: Josh Sacobie | Ottawa
  • Saskatchewan: Dante Marsh | Lathrop, Calif.
  • Calgary: Keon Raymond | Calgary
  • Edmonton: Gladymir Charmant | Montreal
  • B.C.: Starlene Sutherland | Winnipeg

Three of the participants are former CFL players as Simmons played seven years along the offensive line for Hamilton and Montreal, Marsh played eleven seasons at defensive back for B.C., and Raymond played nine seasons at strong-side linebacker for Calgary, Toronto, and Hamilton.

Ashraf, Taylor, Adams, Sacobie, and Charmant all have coaching experience at the amateur level, while Sutherland is an athletic trainer.

“As a league, we’re taking a step forward in uplifting voices and welcoming different perspectives to our workplaces,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement. “Persons of colour, Indigenous peoples, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community and individuals from other under-represented groups have a place in the CFL, and we’re thrilled to present this professional development opportunity.

“There’s more to be done in championing inclusivity and embracing diversity, but we’re excited for this program and the chance to better serve and support Canadians.”

The Diversity in Football Program will see participants join football operations departments across the CFL to gain first-hand experience in coaching or athletic therapy. They will work with team staff members throughout training camp and in at least one preseason contest to hone their skills and learn in a professional football setting.

“Diversity is Strength — on the field, in the workplace in our communities,” said Laurence Pontbriand, the CFL’s manager of football and officiating development as well as the co-chair of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee.

“Football is our platform and through this program, we are moving forward in a more positive and more inclusive direction for the betterment of the game, the Canadian football community, and the country.”