FHL was started by two Calgarians, Krista Taldorf and Marion Christensen, who have each worked in the immigrant serving sector for many years and have a strong awareness of issues of integration for newcomers to Canada, including those for children and youth.  As well, they both have experience with organized sport and knowledge of its benefits in the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of children.  It is with this background that they came up with the idea to support the integration of culturally diverse children and youth through facilitating their involvement in Canadian football and hockey.

Krista holds a degree in Non-profit Management, and Marion has a Bachelor of Social Work degree.

What does the FHL Program offer?

FHL, with its community partners, provides an introductory football and hockey program to up to 50 kids between the ages of 8 and 16 each year.

  • Kids learn basic skills in each sport, including skating for the hockey component.
  • FHL helps with transportation and provides equipment.
  • Football is 2 half-day sessions held at the University of Calgary, and Hockey is 5 on-ice sessions held at Maxbell or another local arena.
  • Field trips such as going to a football game are included as are other fun activities to build athletic skills and friendships.
  • Organizers help interested kids/families register in community sports leagues to continue involvement in one of these sports.
  • Fall hockey practices are scheduled once per month from September to December
  • A celebration party is held to acknowledge participants’ accomplishments
  • A volunteer mentorship program provides leadership development to former FHL participants.
  • Additional educational sessions are offered between June-March of the following year for each participant group.

The FHL Society is built on the following values:

Vision: Culturally diverse children and youth experience belonging through their full participation in football and hockey associations.

Mission: Integrating culturally diverse children through the Canadian sports of football and hockey.

Values: 

  •  Inclusion:  Everyone should feel valued and part of their community and schools.
  • Teamwork:  We believe the best way model and serve our children is through effective collaboration between family, community partners and our organization.
  • Respect:  We believe that all children should be treated with consideration and be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.
  • Integrity:  Our actions back our words.

FHL in Numbers:  Between 2010 (when FHL was officially incorporated as an Alberta Non-profit Organization) and 2013:

  • FHL has given 154 children of culturally diverse backgrounds a chance to have a genuine hockey and football experience, learning the basic features of each game and building the appropriate athletic skills.
  • 38 (or 25%) have gone on to play one of these sports at the mainstream, community level (32 in hockey, 6 in football).
  • At this time we know that, of the 38, at least 18 kids have played community hockey or football for more than one season (14 in hockey, 4 in football). 
  • 8 siblings (who didn’t participate in FHL) have joined community hockey/football because of their brother’s or sister’s involvement in FHL.
  • Of the 154, at least 28 participants wanted to register for community hockey or football but were not able to because of various barriers including cost, time commitment, and transportation.
  • 15 FHL participants (11 years and older) have volunteered for FHL after having gone through the program.
  • FHL has supported 4 of its participants to register in a sport other than hockey and football.
  • FHL participants have come from the following ethno-cultural backgrounds: African (Sudanese, South Sudanese, Congolese, Ethiopian, Nigerian, Somalian; Tunisian); Latin American (Mexico, Peruvian, Colombian); Middle Eastern (Iraqi, Lebanese); South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Afghan); South east Asian (Vietnamese, Filipino); East Asian (Chinese, South Korean).
  • In addition, we have been able to foster (and observe) the individual growth of so many of these children in their level of confidence and sense of pride for their achievements in sports that they had very little knowledge of or involvement in.
  • Since 2010, FHL has collaborated with 14 community partners and groups: Hockey Calgary, U of C Dinos Football Club, Calgary Stampeders, First Student Canada; Ramsay Community Association, Dover Community Association, Marlborough Park Community Association, CTRL-F, Forest Lawn Library, SAIT, Kids Up Front, Calgary Hitman, Kidsport, Tuxedo Source for Sports.

    The FHL participants get to try hockey during the week of July 27 to July 31 in Calgary on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. FHL is a yearly program that links new Canadian Kids to Hockey and Canadian Football. (Photo by Kenneth Appleby/SAIT Polytechnic)

    The FHL participants get to try hockey during the week of July 27 to July 31 in Calgary on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. FHL is a yearly program that links new Canadian Kids to Hockey and Canadian Football. (Photo by Kenneth Appleby/SAIT Polytechnic)