Just a few days before the Olympic Winter Games were declared open in their country, the Canadian U17 Men’s National Field Hockey Team decided to show a little Olympic spirit of their own while competing in Mexico.
Participating at their first Pan American Youth Championship in Hermosillo, a city relatively undeveloped in the sport, the team decided to donate their spare equipment to local athletes as a way to bolster regional development.
“The young Mexican players were so ecstatic that many of them started playing with the sticks right away,” wrote players Gordie Johnston and Tony Sidhu on the team blog. “This was a heart warming moment for all of us and there was a smile on each and every Canadian player’s face.”
Hermosillo, compared to the Mexican capital, is underdeveloped in terms of existing field hockey infrastructure. The area just recently installed their first sand-based field hockey pitch. The awarding of the Youth Championship to the city by the Pan American Hockey Federation (PAHF) was partly meant to further accelerate this development.
The charitable initiative was started by head coach Aaron Guest when he asked several of the athletes’ parents to bring down some of his excess equipment. After the players made donations of their own the total contribution consisted of sticks, stick bags, shin guards, and turf shoes for the Mexican youth.
To add to the cultural exchange the players also gave away Canadian flags and Field Hockey Canada lapel pins to the elated recipients.
Local television, newspapers, and representatives of PAHF were on hand to witness the event.
“Coach Guest is great at introducing valuable world lessons to the team,” said Team Manager Alvin Bissett. “(He wanted to do this) so that our young Canadian athletes might better understand how fortunate we are here in Canada.”
The Canadians ended up losing in the bronze medal game of the tournament. However the team will long be remembered as big winners in the community as they showed that sport is about far more than just results. It is about working together to become better people both on and off the pitch.
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