Paul McCallum hoists the Grey Cup as a member of the BC Lions in 2011. (File photo)

Paul McCallum hoists the Grey Cup as a member of the BC Lions in 2011. (File photo)

Retired football kicker wanted play hockey as a kid, but ‘it just wasn’t in the budget’

Surrey-raised Paul McCallum now backs KidSport and its annual fundraiser set for Friday

Soccer was Paul McCallum’s first love as a kid. Turns out hockey was something else he wanted to play, but never got the chance.

“I had some friend who played hockey and, you know, I asked my parents if I could play hockey and it just wasn’t in the budget,” recalled McCallum, the retired CFL kicker. “I mean, my parents always provided for me and did very well by me, and I never went without things I’d need, but at the same time, I would have liked to play hockey,” he added. “Maybe hockey is something I’d have been good at, but you never know. It’s one of those things some kids just can’t afford, even to play something like soccer.”

For close to two decades McCallum has been an ambassador for KidsSport, a program that helps financially disadvantaged kids play organized sports.

This week, in advance of an annual KidSport Day fundraiser on Friday (Sept. 28), the Langley resident talked about his own sporting days growing up in Surrey, where he excelled at football and later enjoyed a record-setting, championship-winning pro career with both the BC Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“Growing up in Surrey, I knew a lot of kids who weren’t in sports and saw where their lives went, and how they went down a different path,” said McCallum, a Langley resident. “And you know, I just realized how important sport is for kids and their upbringing, that it gives them a sense of team and what it’s like to work with other people,” he continued. “It just gives lots of different life skills – that if you work hard, good things happen, and sometimes they don’t, and how you deal with that is important, too.”

On KidSport Day, a loonie from the sale of every combo sold at Triple O’s restaurants in the province will be donated to KidSport BC. Donations cover annual registration fees for youth athletes aged 18 and under, and all funds raised go back to kids in their community.

New this year is a Stadium Burger, “an inspired mash-up of two popular sports game classics: a hot dog and a hamburger” Until Oct. 28, $1 from the sale of each of those combos will benefit KidSport.

Since the single-day fundraiser was launched, Triple O’s has raised $350,000 and helped 875 kids. This year, the restaurant chain is aiming to help 250 local kids in need by raising more than $100,000. Every $400 raised provides one B.C. child the opportunity to play team sports for a full year. For details, visit tripleos.com.

McCallum’s involvement with the organization began during his days with the Roughriders.

“To me, what KidSport does is something I just believed in, and so I wanted to help kids be able to play sports, especially those who maybe couldn’t afford it.”

Today, McCallum sells real estate with Homelife Benchmark and has two daughters involved in youth sports.

“Both of them played soccer, and even from when I played to today, the cost is 10 times what is was,” McCallum said. “I have one of my daughters playing Metro soccer and it does get expensive, because they go on trips and whatnot, and it’s really not fair if you have a very talented player who can’t play because they can’t afford it. It’s pretty sad when a child can’t afford to play, which is why I got involved in this organization, because they help… I always try to lend a hand whenever I can.”

• RELATED STORY: Surrey’s Paul McCallum returns to BC Lions, from November 2016.

In the spring of 2016, McCallum signed a one-day contract with the BC Lions in order to retire as a member of the team, but that fall, at age 46, was asked to come out of retirement to play a few more games.

His career in the CFL stretched 23 years, including 11 seasons with the Surrey-based Lions.

“I really enjoyed my time playing,” said McCallum, a former Surrey Ram.

As for staying in the game of football as a coach, he says he’s available.

“I’ve reached out to a few teams asking if they need help with the kickers or other things,” he said. “My door is always open, but I haven’t been called upon yet.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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