Lead photo: The Honourable Neil Lumsden – Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport; Ibrahim Kamal; Jeremy Cross Executive Director – CAO. (Photo cred: CAO)

TORONTO – September 20, 2023 – To celebrate National Coaches Week (September 16-24) the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO), Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS), and Hydro One are excited to present 15 coaches with the province’s most prestigious coaching honour, an Ontario Coaching Excellence Award. From athletics to volleyball, the 2023 Coaching Excellence Award helps fund and recognize the power of sport across local communities in Ontario.

Local boxing coach and former 8-time national champion, Ibrahim Kamal, received the top coaching honour this past Saturday. Climbing the ranks as one of Canada’s top boxing coaches, he is one of the driving forces at MJKO (Mentoring Junior Kids Organization) Boxing, a local charity that offers free programming to youth under 18.

“We are thrilled to recognize coach Ibrahim for their unwavering dedication and support of athlete development on and off the playing field. Our communities are strengthened by the relationships created and fostered through sport and coaches like Ibrahim are leaders in creating those safe, fun, and positive spaces for youth to grow,” said CAO’s Executive Director, Jeremy Cross. “Congratulations and #ThanksCoach to all the recipients and for the impact you are having in your communities.”

“Hydro One believes that coaches are important role models and leaders to their athletes, teams and communities,” said Omar Javed, Vice President, Communications, Marketing & Investor Relations, Hydro One. “Through our partnership with the Coaches Association of Ontario, we’re proud to help support local coaches and their athletes as a new season kicks off. Congratulations to Ibrahim and to all recipients. Thank you for the work that you do to make sports exciting, safe and accessible for all.”

Through the Safe Sport 101 partnership between the CAO and Hydro One each recipient will also receive funding for new equipment to keep their athletes and teams’ safe and their respective sports affordable and accessible. This continued partnership gives coaches the tools they need to make sports safe, fun, and inclusive for all.

The Coaching Excellence Award recipients were selected from numerous nominations received by the CAO across 35+ sports and 60+ communities. Thanks to the support from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the awards ceremony is presented annually recognizing coaches of all levels of sport from community to competitive for their unique commitments to inspire, innovate and share knowledge of sport with others.

“Coaches selflessly commit their time and efforts to inspire Ontario’s athletes and help them reach their full potential. Their mentorship and motivation are critical to athlete development from the very start,” said Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “So many athletes and their families have benefitted from the guidance of excellent, caring coaches and I am pleased to congratulate all of those being recognized.”  

This year marks the 9th annual National Coaches Week, when Canadians say #ThanksCoach for the role coaches play in building safe communities and the positive impact they have on the lives of all participants. Ontario is home to more than 150,000 active coaches, with as many as 60% volunteering their services. For more information about National Coaches Week across Ontario, visit www.coachesontario.ca/events/coachesweek.

About the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO)

The Coaches Association of Ontario is an independent, non-profit organization that supports coaches from community to high performance across all sports in Ontario. For more information, please visit www.coachesontario.ca, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Press release courtesy of the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO).

Further reading: Knocking Out Challenges: A Coach’s Impact on At-Risk Athletes by David Grossman