Politics
TO mayor sacked as high school football coach

Judy Collins, Treasurer - Parent Council - at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School, speaks to reporters outside of the school in north Toronto, Ont. on Wednesday May 22, 2013.

Credits: Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/ QMI Agency

JENNY YUEN | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- Players on the Don Bosco Eagles high school football team are backing now ex-coach Mayor Rob Ford, who was dumped Wednesday by the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).

A statement from the TCDSB Wednesday said Ford was notified of the board's decision to "pursue a different direction" with a new volunteer head coach.

"I think that's a really bad mistake by the school board," said Kwaku Agyeman, 18, an Eagles linebacker last season.

"Rob Ford made an extremely big impact on the team and on the players. I feel bad for the younger generation because they're not going to have a powerful coach and powerful role model," he added. "I talked to one of the captains on the team and he was just heartbroken. He can't believe it happened."

Agyeman said he believes the firing was in light of the alleged video of Ford smoking crack, but "it's nonsense, because if the public can't see the video, the allegations should not be there."

But the school board contends Ford being sacked has nothing to do with the rumoured videotape, but rather remarks Ford made during a March interview on Sun News Network which negatively painted the Don Bosco community as "crime ridden" and the youth as "gang bangers."

"We've conducted a comprehensive review, speaking with parents, teachers and Mr. Ford himself," TCDSB spokesman John Yan said.

"In terms of the timing, we were holding meetings with parents of players as late as Wednesday. We wanted to be fair to the mayor, given his 11 years with the board (as a volunteer coach), and that's why we took as long as we did."

Ford could not be reached for comment on the decision.

In a statement, TCDSB director of education Bruce Rodrigues said the school board is very grateful for the mayor's contribution, however, its primary responsibility is to ensure a "positive learning environment for all our students and promote our school's ongoing commitment to academic achievement, well-being and excellence."

Judy Collins, treasurer of Don Bosco's parent council, said while they had no "veto" over the decision, parents back the school board's choice to oust Ford.

"Unfortunately, the message came out at a time when things are a little hot for Mr. Ford, but that's just a sad coincidence," she said. "Whenever anything happens -- good or bad -- at City Hall, the one place you can find the mayor is at our school.

"We keep getting sucked into that and one has nothing to do with the other. Our school is a great place to be and we're working very hard to make sure the good stuff builds."

Agyeman said he shows endless gratitude towards Ford because he changed his future for the better.

When he was in Grade 8, Ford encouraged him to try out for Don Bosco's Eagles. He's now taking psychology at York University and has received offers from other Canadian schools to play football.

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