*Tommy was a self-confessed couch potato.

He enjoyed just quietly playing video games.

That has now all changed thanks to football. He started playing in November and hasn’t looked back.

Scott Waters, program manager, said, “His level of confidence has significantly improved. He’s actually been able to speak in front of the group at home and speak in front of his football team. He was never able to do that before.”

He noted that the youth’s stress levels have noticeably decreased.

“He’s showing way more pro-social involvement with his peers around the group home and that’s probably because of the practice he’s been getting with his peers in the football program,” said Scott.

Jason Boyda, Tommy’s head coach agreed, “He has so much more confidence in his abilities. What I noticed about Tommy right away is he was shy, not very confident – reserved - and as this process went on, he’s really come out of his shell.”

Jason said that Tommy made him get choked up at the end of one of the games.

“He asked if he could address the team. He stood up with all those eyes on him and he expressed how thankful and appreciative he is that he has such a fantastic new family and team members he now refers to as brothers,” smiled Jason.

Coming out and playing football lit something within Tommy, the desire to compete, and he’s very thankful that he has something to look forward to, Jason explained.

Tommy said, “I’ve always watched the CFL, and it always seemed like something fun to do. I’m really, really enjoying it.”

His favourite part of playing football is the travelling to new places to play. The team will be going to the United States to play in a tournament, and Tommy is very excited.

“I’m going to places I never thought I’d be able to go,” he grinned.

He pointed out that he has been feeling much better since he’s started playing. He said he’s much more patient, and not as quick-tempered as he was in the past.

“He’s developed a whole new support system with his teammates, which is really important for him and his plans as he moves forward with his life. I’m so very proud of him,” beamed Scott.

*Name changed for privacy.