Tim Adams

Top 40 Under 40 2011

Photography Aaron Pedersen/3Ten Photo

Age: 29

Job Title: Reporter, CBC

Why He’s Top 40: Hundreds of  kids learn self- respect, leadership skills and trigonometry through his free inner-city soccer league.

Key To Success: “The kids inspire me. You think you’re having a bad day, and then you see these kids with huge smiles on their faces and you know what they’re going through, and it humbles you instantly.”

Tim Adams, a CBC journalist, has told policy-changing stories.

His reporting on a man who continued to offer driving lessons despite criminal charges convinced the Alberta government to set up a public registry of all driving instructors. And, after reporting on abandoned Jasper Avenue phone booths being used as drug dens and public washrooms, the City cleaned and boarded them up.

But in 2005, while reporting on an inner-city school in McCauley that had banned junk food in its halls, his own life was changed by the principal’s casual remark.

“She was talking about how the kids were from countries all over the world, and they’re always out on the playground kicking a soccer ball around. And they have all of this talent, but it’s all disorganized and they’re all over the place,” says Adams.

A soccer fanatic, he’d been wanting to share his passion with children, especially the underprivileged. So, he coached the junior high kids in the sport they loved until the school closed in 2010.

Since many of the McCauley kids had younger siblings tagging along at practices, Adams started an elementary school league for them in 2009 called Free Footie, which continues to operate with eight teams participating last season.

More than how to kick a ball, he’s taught them to develop respect for one another, leadership skills and even math skills. “We’ll do angle passes to teach acute angles and obtuse angles.”

Over the years, Adams has raised about $10,000 in funds and equipment for the league and the kids at McCauley. He’s driven kids to practices, bought meals and paid entry fees, just like his dad once did for Adams’s team during his childhood years in Deep River, Ont., a town with a huge economic divide. “I’ll never forget how my dad took those kids under his wing, and one even became like a brother to me,” he says.

His long-term goal is to grow the league to 40 teams but, most importantly, to keep it free. “It’s supposed to be the world’s game, the game where you just put together a bunch of shopping bags and make a soccer ball and play in bare feet.”

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