Sports have a unique gift, which is the ability to bring people together to achieve a common goal. That goal can be to win games or championships, but it could also be for things that are bigger than sports. On Saturday, November 5th, seven students from Toronto Metropolitan University held a charity touch football tournament raising money for men’s health. As part of a school project, these seven students put this event together and are now producing a documentary about it. Anuj Bhasker worked as the associate producer, Tomas Coburn was the marketing lead, Danny Dawood was the director of photography, Paolo Gismondi was the director, Sarah Munro was the head of finance, Thomas Pocrnic was the producer, Giulius Ruffa was the editor and together they were able to put on a fantastic event.

These seven students were able to partner with Rogers, the Movember Foundation and the Vaughan Touch Football League to put on the Tackle The Stigma charity football tournament. The group raised a total of $18,157 through their Movember campaign. Of the 13 teams involved in the Movember campaign, “Headsup Hunks” raised the most with a total of $3,385. Sixty-two individual donors were involved in raising the $18,157. The groups motivation was described as “we are Tackle The Stigma, a practicum project group in our last year of undergrad studies at Toronto Metropolitan University. Tackle The Stigma is a charity football tournament that will be hosted in Vaughan, ON, in partnership with Rogers, the Vaughan Touch Football League, and the Movember Foundation. To go along with the tournament, we will be producing a documentary on the event, and the impact sport has had on mental health. Our goal is to create a moving final feature, while also putting on a fun, community-driven event. We also have set a target to raise $15,000 for the Movember Foundation and its mental health initiatives.”

Tomas Coburn, one of the seven students involved in this event said “we chose Movember as they do a lot of work for mental health and the tournament was in November so it worked perfectly.” 

Movember truly does a lot of great things for men’s health. Their ability to create an immense amount of awareness for men’s mental health, testicular cancer and prostate cancer is unmatched. Including all the different ways people can participate in creating awareness and by donating, they have used marketing to their advantage. Last year Movember teamed up with Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews and raised $148,124. He has teamed up with Movember three times now and has raised a total of $262,593. This dollar amount and initiative of these students is even more important when you account for some of the troubling statistics. According to Movember “1 in 9 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in young Canadian men. In 2019, over 3,050 men died by suicide, nearly 59 men per week. In Canada, 3 out of 4 deaths by suicide are men. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadian males aged 15–44 years.” The Movember Foundation has spread awareness in November for men’s health by encouraging men to grow moustaches and since they have grown so much, they have introduced other ways for people who are unable to grow moustaches. People can donate to specific people or organization’s foundations, buy merchandise, participate in the move for Movember challenge, which is running or walking 60 km over the month for the 60 men who take their lives each hour around the world, host a mo-ment or mo your own way which is choosing your own adventure to create awareness.

The Vaughan Touch Football League (VTFL) was created just two years ago by the owners of a popular NFL news-sharing Instagram account called Catch The Blitz. Catch The Blitz has accumulated over 146,000 followers where they share up to the minute news, graphics, statistics and other information about the NFL. They have even branched out in the podcasting world with their own podcast, The CTB Show. With the success of the Catch The Blitz account, they were able to kick start the VTFL. The VTFL describes their league as “The Vaughan Tough Football League (VTFL) is a one-touch football league based in Vaughan, Canada. We strive to provide football enthusiasts with a fun, safe and competitive environment to play the game they love.” Christian Catenacci, William DiMonte and Thomas Pocrnic, the league runners of the VTFL, were used as the infrastructure to help put on the event. The event was held at Concord Regional Park in Thornhill. The VTFL has four divisions and 32 teams involved in their weekly league but this tournament had 13 teams. Coburn also touched upon Rogers’ involvement and told me that

 “Rogers was generous enough to fund our expenses for our tournament.”

The day the tournament was hosted was on November 5th where the 13 teams involved battled for the championship. Besides winning the tournament, the team that raised the most money by the tournament date was given 12 Toronto Raptors tickets for their game at Scotiabank Arena against the Boston Celtics on December 5th. The Pink Panthers were able to grab those tickets for raising $2100. 

The Tackle The Stigma group provided food, music and a platform for the athletes participating to talk about mental health and their experiences. The next step for these students is to produce a documentary about the charity event they held. Coburn said “along with the event that we put on we are also producing a documentary about mental health and sports with interviews from the community manager at Movember (Shane DeMerchant), the co-owner of the VTFL (William DiMonte) and Donnovan Bennett from Sportsnet.” Coburn also stated that everyone involved was thrilled with its success and that “this may become a yearly tournament that is put on every Movember, but nothing is set in stone yet.”