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Blair Court tenant sets his sights high thanks to football scholarship

Richard Graham grew up in Blair Court, now he is on the path to a bright future, thanks in part to a bursary from the OCH Foundation.

Richard has been playing football since he was eight and was able to get a bursary to participate in the elite football program C.A.N.I Athletics led by OCH Tenant Ambassador and former NFL player Christo Bilukidi. As part of that program, he attended the Rivals 3 Combine Football Camp last spring.

We sat down with Richard last spring and asked him about his trip and his plan for the future – he graduated from Hillcrest High School in June. He planned to study Criminology.

He had recently returned from the football camp.

“The best part was being able to size up the competition,” he said of the other teens looking for college football scholarships. “There were 20 other kids there. You get to watch the other kids and see what they’ve got.”

Richard is a city and provincial football champion – he has multiple player awards, including Most Valued Player.

“One of the things I like about football is the opportunity to make friends – family really, I play with people I met when I was eight, nine, 10,” he said.

“The scholarship I got from the Foundation really helped me and my family a lot,” he said.

Richard said he has done other camps and other training programs, but everything has a cost – and it would have been out of reach this for his family, if they had to pay for the program.

“It will help push me farther in my career,” he said of the training. “There was a sense of relief when it all worked out because I had worked so hard and it led to this.”

Richard is not just a star on the football field. He applies the same discipline when it comes to hitting the books. He wants to do the most he can with the tools that were given to him.

“I just work on goal setting,” he said. “If I have a 75 then I ask the teacher what I need to get an A.”

He will be taking that same drive to university with him. He interested in pursuing criminology after taking a law class in Grade 11.

“I just loved it and I excelled,” he said, adding he got an 86 the first year and a 94 in Grade 12.

When we asked Richard what advice he would give to someone else, he said to find something you love and continue to push yourself.

He added he was happy to get the support from Christo.

“If he believed in me, how could I not believe in me?” he said.

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