By Perry Lefko
Rob Maver is in his ninth season with the Calgary Stampeders and is the only active punter and/or kicker in the Canadian Football League who has played his entire career with the same team, which has allowed him to establish roots and connections in the community.
Within the past two years, he has become active in a charity for the Calgary chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and a partner in a local virtual online car dealership called List Auto.
Last year, Rob started a flag football tournament called Guts N Glory to raise money and awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis, which are inflammatory bowel diseases, bringing together current and former Stamps’ players to play with and against teams that qualify for entry in the tournament by raising $1,500 for the cause.
“When you are a professional athlete, you have this unique platform that gives you an opportunity to give back,” Rob said. “I think it’s our duty as professional football players to take advantage of that.”
Rob’s wife, Elizabeth, has Crohn’s, something she was diagnosed with long before the two met. Elizabeth completed her Master’s research in a gastrointestinal lab and her father is a gastrointestinal doctor.
“I quickly became immersed in that world, if you will,” Rob said. “Crohn’s occurs a little bit higher up in your GI tract and with Colitis the inflammation occurs in your colon. The difference between the two is the region of where it happens and that can impact the symptoms that you have. They are autoimmune diseases where your body essentially attacks itself. The disease is becoming increasingly prevalent in Canada, specifically Alberta, too. There is a lot of research going on to learn more about these diseases. There are some genetic and environmental factors, but nothing conclusive to this point.”
Rob became a spokesperson for Crohn’s and Colitis in 2016, helping in various community fundraising, charity events, functions and speaking at conferences. Another member of the Calgary Crohn’s and Colitis Canada raised the idea of a flag football tournament. Rob decided to put the event together in 2017 and it raised $22,000. The second event took place in September with more teams and sponsors and doubled the money raised from the first one.
“I think it’s the cause,” he said. “Crohn’s and Colitis are invisible diseases. A lot of people don’t realize how many individuals are impacted or are touched by Crohn’s or Colitis until they start talking about it. As soon as I started becoming an ambassador for CCC, that’s when I truly began to realize it. The more of these conversations you have, the more prevalent you realize these diseases actually are. These people deserve help.
“I think when a lot of people learn about that they want to support [the cause]. There’s not a lot of events that go towards helping Crohn’s and Colitis.”
Rob had done some community work with the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society and other events, but nothing to the extent of what he is doing with CCC.
“You’re meeting weekly, contacting sponsors, coordinating volunteers, keeping minutes at meetings,” he said. “There’s just a million and one different things that go on behind the scenes in any event. It’s been a lot of fun to take this on.”
Through a friendship with Alif Bharmal, a Calgarian who worked at an automobile dealership and established relationships with current and former Stamps’ players by selling cars, Rob was approached to become a partner in List Auto.
Alif launched the company in March to address the needs of individuals looking to buy and sell used accident-free vehicles online, while also helping people seeking to refinance their car payment loans. Alif had an extensive background in the financial services and automotive industry and decided to combine the two. Rob fit in perfectly with what Alif wanted to do with List Auto. He impressed Alif with his demand to see the business plan and learn about the company and see if he was the right fit.
“Right then and there I was so happy,” Alif said. “He asked me the right questions to join the organization. I always loved how dedicated Rob was – he’s like our Trivago guy, but he’s also someone who will develop strategy to help our business grow. To me, that fit our [mandate].
“We are all about educating and empowering [the consumer] so that they make a wise financial decision when it comes to the second-largest purchase [next to a house] that they are going to make. I know what Rob stands for and he was the image of what we are trying to do. We will always to do what is best for the individual, putting their needs ahead of our own, and how we can truly be honest and transparent.”
Rob graduated in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Guelph in 2010, and during his time in school he developed some skills working in sales and marketing working for local businesses. A few years ago, he worked for a company in the property services business.
“Obviously the goal is to play football for a very long time,” Rob said. “I’ve been tremendously fortunate to do that. I also have other career aspirations for when football is done. I’ve always been interested in working for the police and I have that application ongoing as well. Just through a friendship this business opportunity with List Auto came up and it’s really taking off. It’s been a lot of fun.
“Life throws things at you, but whenever you are presented with an opportunity you should definitely take advantage of it and see what it can be. That’s happening right now with List Auto and it’s going extremely well. I’m very grateful to be on board.”
Alif has made Rob the face of the company, appearing in videos posted on the website www.listauto.ca and helping with corporate presentations.
“I tend to shy away from the limelight,” Alif said. “I watched a lot of Rob’s on-camera stuff and he’s just so articulate, honest and genuine and that comes across when he’s talking to you.
“When he’s been doing these videos, he’ll practice and practice and it’s almost like he doesn’t come across as Rob Maver. But when he just goes with it, when he feels it and understands it and believes it, that’s Rob Maver.
“Being from Calgary I know the Stampeders players don’t get the attention like the Flames players for example. But he’s also not like Bo Levi Mitchell or Kamar Jorden. He’s the punter. Nobody ever knows who the punter is on the team. I think everybody knows who Rob is because of who he is as a person, but it was never on my mind that we were going to ride a Stampeders’ celebrity coattails. That was the least of our concerns or thoughts. Even now when he’s sending out his emails or talking to a broker to articulate what we are doing, it’s Rob Maver from List Auto. He doesn’t even say it is Rob Maver from the Calgary Stampeders because he believes in this product. It’s not about who he is; it’s about what he is delivering.”
Rob recommends pro football players find something else away from the field they are interested in, especially during the off-seasons.
“It’s easy to get bored in the off-season,” he said. “You can only work out and train for so many hours a day. It’s good to find different ways to spend your time. Ultimately football doesn’t last forever. It’s been extremely kind to me so far, but you’ve got to start preparing and it’s always good to have another form of income too, plus it’s fun.
“When I get back from practice it is a few hours here and there with List Auto and a lot of the Crohn’s and Colitis work happens in the evening.”