From lawyer to social entrepreneur, Fabrice Vil coaches for a better society

Before social entrepreneurship became mainstream, lawyer Fabrice Vil took a leap of faith to help more young people access opportunities. After two years of internal debate, he decides to leave his job at one of the largest law firms in Quebec to focus on the growth of Pour 3 Points., the non-profit organization he had founded.

The organization, whose name roughly translates to go for three metaphor of basketball, transforms sports coaches into life coaches to support the development of young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“It is a reference not to settle, but to go towards what is best for youth, society and humanity”, declared Fabrice Vil, founder of Pour 3 Points.

Growing up as a Montrealer with roots in Haiti, Vil witnessed structural inequalities early on. Living in the lower-income northeastern part of the city, he attended school in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, where he observed social disparities between neighborhoods.

“As a child, I wondered why society is built this way,” Vil recalls.

He soon realized the power of mentorship in the life of a young athlete while playing basketball in high school. His coaches taught him valuable life skills ranging from discipline and teamwork to adversity.

“It was clear to me that something had to be done by setting up a platform where we would be able to support young people in the sporting context,” he said. “I decided to link my understanding of sport to the potential of coaching while using it 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, reaching nearly 3,000 children while nurturing a new generation of budding coaches, Vil said.

Last year, the organization even partnered with Montreal’s professional soccer club, CF Montreal, to strengthen its involvement in the community and increase its social impact.

The Elements of Leadership Coaching

At the heart and soul of the organization is the philosophy that coaches are instruments to support the person in their autonomy. Vil believes that there are five elements to the art of leadership coaching, which can be translated into any other professional context:

  • Leaders need to be aware of their biases to avoid imposing their views on others.
  • They should 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 can’t lead effectively without having a deep understanding of the game or the industry.
  • Understand the environment. For example, supervision within the framework of a private school is not the same in a rural or underprivileged school. The same goes for how leadership can change in a startup and an established company.
  • Successful leaders avoid placing the burden of success on their teams. It is crucial to accept the results induced by external factors. “Focus on what you can control. That’s the only thing coaches can run a team,” Vil said.

Towards a wider scope

“I’m at a point where managing day-to-day operations isn’t where I can provide the best value,” he said. “Now it’s more about supporting the culture, but also helping to promote the organization, dealing with partners and setting 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 made up of multiple short stories that support the idea that we’re neither good nor bad, but all human, and that pointing the finger at a bad person is circumstantial and much more complex.”

Stephanie Ricci contributed to this story.

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