Football, while not quite the national obsession that hockey is, is still one of the most popular sports in the country, and can be an important part in the life of any Canadian boy growing up. It teaches important skills like teamwork, helps to socialize children and teenagers, and, for some, can turn into an important career that allows them to realize their full potential while at the same time entertaining Canadians all over the country as an athlete in a professional game.
For this, and many other reasons, football remains an important cultural touchstone for Canadian society, while it is looked on as a sport, passing that sport on, its values, its benefits and its rules and strategies, is an important role. A football coach, in some ways, can be a very important part of a young Canadian’s life.
Coaching the Next Generation
Being a football coach is a bit different in terms of responsibilities and qualifications from a typical teaching position. As such, a lot of the emphasis when it comes to hiring a coach is based on personal qualities and experience. Who the person is, and what they offer as a coach, is usually far more important than any theoretical titles or accomplishments on a piece of paper.
This brings up the question of criminal records. While not having a criminal record at all is obviously preferable, does it mean that if you have what it takes to be a great football coach, but have a criminal conviction in your past, you can never get a job in this field?
Technically, the answer is “no,” but there are many conditions attached to that.
School Policy/Preference Is a Factor
For the most part, it is NOT illegal for a school to hire someone that has a criminal conviction and subsequent record that appears in a background check. There is only one serious exception to this, and that is a criminal offence of a sexual crime. In these cases, the person will be placed on the Vulnerable Sector registry so the school has a legal requirement to NOT hire this potential candidate. For other offences however, even including manslaughter, it is not actually illegal for a school to hire a person with that type of conviction.
Of course, while it’s not illegal to hire people with criminal records, internal school policies themselves may set out to refuse to hire a candidate on this basis, and that’s not illegal either, especially if there are other equally qualified candidates that don’t have a record.
Circumstances Are Important
Just because a school may prefer a candidate that doesn’t have a criminal record, that doesn’t mean that your chances are slim. An individual’s qualifications and character are usually the deciding factors, and, in some cases, honesty and elaboration can make all the difference.
For example, if the convictions you have are for self-defence, or are criminal convictions from when you were younger, such as an arrest at a protest, these types of offences may very well be completely disregarded by an interviewer, or interviewing panel. The exact context of your criminal conviction is very important, and, when explained, may not be a factor at all to the decision makers once they understand the nature of the conviction.
Setting the Record Straight
While there are some schools and decision makers that may have the flexibility to consider every individual candidate and the context of more stand-out markers on their application such as a criminal record, don’t count on every school to have this kind of process. Other schools can—and will—simply disregard any application in which a criminal record appears.
If you want to give yourself the best possible chance at helping more Canadians to enjoy the sport and benefits of football, then give yourself a chance. You may already qualify for a Record Suspension, which will clear your record of any criminal conviction should someone conduct a background check. Please note however that even with a Record Suspension, if you were places on the Vulnerable Sector registry, you will not be able to coach kids as they are considered “vulnerable”.
The requirements for a Record Suspension vary in timing with the nature of a criminal conviction. Your first step should be to contact Pardons Canada to get a full understanding of the Record Suspension process and find out how we can help.