Before social entrepreneurship became mainstream, lawyer Fabrice Vil took a leap of faith to help more young people gain access to opportunities. After two years of internal debate, he decided to leave his job at one of Quebec’s largest law firms to focus on growing pour 3 Points, the nonprofit organization that he had founded.
The organization, whose name roughly translates to going for three As a basketball metaphor, transforms sports coaches into life skills coaches to support the achievement of youth in underprivileged neighborhoods.
“It’s a reference to not settling down, but going for what is best for youth, society, and humanity,” said Fabrice Vil, founder of Pour 3 Points.
Growing up as a Montrealer with roots in Haiti, Vil to witness structural inequalities early on. Living in the low-income northeastern part of the city, he attended school in an upper-middle-class area, where he observed social disparity between neighborhoods.
“As a child, I would ask myself why society is constructed that way,” recalled Vil.
He soon realized the power of mentorship in a young athlete’s life while playing basketball at a high school. His coaches taught him valuable life skills ranging from discipline and teamwork to facing adversity.
“It was clear to me that something had to be done by putting in place a platform where we would be able to support youth in the sports context,” he said. “I decided to bridge my understanding of sports with the potential of coaching while using that as an instrument for a more just and equitable society.”
Today, the leadership development program has worked with more than 300 coaches in 17 different sports, impacting nearly 3,000 children while training a new generation of aspiring coaches, said Vil.
Last year, the organization even partnered with Montreal’s professional soccer club, CF Montreal, to strengthen its involvement in the community and drive further social impact.
The elements of coaching leadership
At the heart and soul of the organization lies the philosophy that coaches are instruments to support the person in their autonomy. Vil believes there are five elements to the art of coaching leadership, which may translate into any other business setting:
- Leaders must be mindful of their biases to avoid imposing their views on others.
- They must listen to ask questions and understand, rather than listening to confirm their own beliefs.
- Being good at your craft is as important as self-awareness and excellent interpersonal skills. You cannot lead effectively without having a deep understanding of the game—or industry.
- Understanding the environment. For instance, coaching in the context of a private school is not the same in a rural or underprivileged school. The same goes for how leadership may alter in a startup and an established company.
- Successful leaders avoid placing the burden of success on their teams. It is crucial to accept the outcomes driven by external factors. “Focus on what you can control. It is the only thing that coaches can lead a team to do,” said Vil.
Towards a wider reach
“I’m at a point where dealing with day-to-day operations is not where I can bring the best value,” he said. “It’s now more of a role of supporting the culture but also helping promote the organization, dealing with partners, and establishing the long-term strategy.”
Vil is also a columnist for French-language newspapers and is in the early stages of writing his first book.
“It’s a book composed of multiple short stories that support the idea that we are neither good nor bad, but all human, and that pointing out a bad person is circumstantial and much more complex.”
Stephanie Ricci contributed to this story.