I will always be grateful to Calgary for giving me the life I have. Soon after I came to Calgary I became aware of just how generous this city is. Whether it’s fundraising for mental health, flood survivors or our city’s homeless, the people of Calgary have always been there for each other. The support this city shows for its sports teams is the same; we easily have the best sports fans in the world!
Of course, it goes beyond financial generosity, as important as that is for families struggling to make ends meet. Everyone who has participated in sport has received the benefits of other peoples’ time and support in the stands, at the finish line, in the training room, or on the way to and from practice. I know without a doubt I would not be a Canadian Football Hall of Famer was it not for the parents of friends and teammates who picked me up and brought me home night after night, year after year because we never had a car. You too know the difference you are making in the lives of children and youth by supporting our communities.
“It takes a villiage to raise a child”– Old Nigerian Proverb
If communities are to develop and prosper in meaningful ways, not only in sport but in the arts, social services, medicine, and business, we need to understand we are all in this together. Originally the Nigerian proverb went “Oran a azu nwa” this in English is “It takes a village to raise a child.” And another saying, ‘if you want to travel fast, travel alone, and if you want to go far, go with others’. Every member of the Calgary Black Chambers knows these sayings and values their wisdom. We are people who believe in the power of cooperation in the community, the power of fellowship. We understand from experience what it means to be supported and encouraged by others, by people and groups who look past our faults and weaknesses, our moments of indiscretion and bad judgment, and see the potential. We trust success will be achieved with others as equal partners in the process.
If football has taught me anything about success, it’s that you win the game one play at a time. This is a very simple truth yet difficult to fully trust. What do I mean by winning the game one play at a time? Certainly a successful athlete, a successful team or family, needs to understand the bigger picture and take the steps to get there, primarily focusing on the next step. Fundamentally, this means remaining in the present moment. We’re in unprecedented circumstances but this rule still applies. Look at the big picture, help support your city, and take the next step towards the goal of getting through this.
Winning one play at a time is much more than a string of successful, one-off moments. It’s bringing all that a team has experienced and learned, all anticipation, concentration, and energy to the present moment, to the possibilities available right now. We in Calgary are centered, still and undistracted by what may have happened in the previous play. We are completely committed to reaching the end zone, beginning now, which is the only moment we have to make a difference.
It will take our entire community to get through this so thank you for your continued support of our City, our health care providers and our food service workers during these unparalleled times. I’ll look forward to celebrating the end of this together!