Coach Feature: Parliamentary Secretary, Sport & Multiculturalism Ravi Kahlon
Parliamentary Secretary (PS) Ravi Kahlon learned one of his most valued and memorable life lessons as a young adult from his coach: that process is more important than outcome. A key learning that he attributes to making him a better human being across all areas of his life.
And that’s the thing about coaches – they have the influence and impact to profoundly shape and change lives.
“I learned from my coaches, skills that made me who I am today,” says PS Kahlon.
PS Kahlon recalls two coaches who have particularly impacted him: Gene Muller, former coach of the Canadian National Field Hockey Team and Giles Wheatly, from Port Alberni, also a high level field hockey coach.
For the Parliamentary Secretary, sport has been an important part of his life for as long as he can remember. As a child, he first stepped on to the field, playing organized sport on an all-girls field hockey team because, at the time, there weren’t any boys’ teams available to him. But that first dabble into sport set the stage for a life-long career in field hockey. A two-time Olympian for Team Canada, PS Kahlon is an exemplary example of how the B.C. sport system can nurture athletes from a field for play to the playing field.
This life-long passion for sport led to a natural evolution into coaching when, at just 19, he was invited to become an assistant hockey coach. Over the years, PS Kahlon has toggled between being an athlete and a coach – both at the grassroots and high-performance level.
PS Kahlon attributes all of his sport experiences as pivotal to who he is now as a political leader and parent, but it has been his time coaching children that has resonated with him on a visceral level.
“My true passion is coaching young kids. When you see little kids out there on the field, it reminds you that sport is about fun. When I see kids playing sport, I don’t necessarily see future Olympians – I see future doctors, teachers, and social workers. I see life skills that will take these kids from sport to whatever they want to be in their lives.”
PS Kahlon is so passionate about the impact of coaches and sport that when he became a father, it was only a matter of time before he took on the role as coach of his son’s soccer and field hockey teams. And he quickly became a team favourite.
These days, his coaching skills are missed by his son and friends as much as he misses being a coach. As new elected MLA for North Delta, and Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism, there is very little time for much beyond his role as a political leader in the province. But this is where his story comes full circle – he is now able to influence and impact B.C. sport, systemically. Things like building coach opportunities and ensuring B.C. coaches have the qualifications and training needed to be the kind of coaches that PS Kahlon remembers changing his life, and the kind of coach and role model he has been for young athletes.
“I want coaches to remember that teaching kids to excel at a sport is only one part of the equation. You also want them to be good human beings and to grow up to be successful because of the skills they learned through sport. Sport is an avenue for life lessons – never forget that.”
It is British Columbians like PS Kahlon who remind us that coaches are more than people who instruct sport. Coaches are mentors, teachers, counsellors, chaperones, and crafters of future leaders. And more often than not, coaches are volunteers – parents who juggle full-time careers, family, dentist appointments, making lunches, and also happen to excel at building young lives through sport.