U SPORTS and the BlackNorth Initiative are to give eight student-athletes bursaries ©U SPORTS

Canadian university sports governing body U SPORTS has launched a partnership with the BlackNorth Initiative (BNI) that will support black student-athletes financially in preparation for their post-graduation lives.

Athletes on Track will be a bursary and mentorship programme funded through BNI by independent financial advisers Scotia Wealth Management and employment and labour law firm Sherrard Kuzz LLP.

Eight black students are to receive CAD5,000 (£3,200/$3,900/€3,800), as well as a mentor for support and guidance in areas such as building a CV and public speaking.

"Having been a former university student-athlete, I couldn't be prouder to help launch this bursary programme and truly provide unique opportunities to our next generation of leaders," said Chris George, co-chair of BNI Sport and Entertainment Committee.

Athletes on Track was first announced on May 31 at the U SPORTS Annual General Meeting, with the BNI now joining as a supporter of the programme.

Only black athletes on a U SPORTS varsity team are eligible for the bursary ©Getty Images
Only black athletes on a U SPORTS varsity team are eligible for the bursary ©Getty Images

"Black university student-athletes in Canada face a myriad of systemic barriers at every level of their personal and professional development, including at the start of their careers," said Sundeep Gokhale, partner at Sherrard Kuzz LLP.

"This programme is designed to provide mentorship from and career connections with successful business and community leaders. 

"The programme aims to build important skills and relationships, to open doors that are otherwise shut."

Nominations are to be requested from August.

To be eligible, a student-athlete must identify as black, must be enrolled at a Canadian university, must show a financial need and must be a member of a U SPORTS varsity team.