Representatives from two of Canada’s most iconic sports franchises are in London this weekend
It likely won’t look like his glory days, but former Toronto Maple Leaf and London Knight great Daryl Sittler is happy to be lacing up his skates for a good cause, with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) taking the lead.
“We’re an organization that likes to give back to the community and participate to make a better opportunity or opportunities for those who live in those communities.” Says Sittler.
The NBA’s Toronto Raptors will hold an open practice at Budweiser Gardens on Saturday at 4 p.m. and the Leafs alumni will play a game on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Representatives from Budweiser Gardens and MLSE say the events are part of a stand against hate in the wake of the deaths of four members of the Afzaal family in early June. They were struck by a vehicle in London in what police allege was a hate crime.
Another former Leaf captain, Wendel Clark, is also taking part on Sunday, saying, “It’s all really about putting a great first step forward in the healing process.”
Nawaz Tahir is Director of Hikma Public Affairs Council, which champions advocacy and public participation for Muslims in and around London, “Think of it from the impact on our kids who are, sort of, feeling angst as well. To see some of the people that they look up to you know, the raptors players, the Leafs players, being part of this it really does provide a psychological boost.”
The money raised from the events will be funnelled through MLSE’S Change the Game campaign. Sittler says MLSE will work with the City of London and others to build a legacy program to assist youth in the community.
“The power behind this message, the leadership of having Maple Leaf Sports come to London and do this is truly heartwarming,” says Tahir
Tickets for both the Raptors open practice and Leafs alumni game can be purchased on the Budweiser Gardens website.