(Photo: © FIH / Stanislas Brochier)
Commonwealth Games Canada announced that men’s hockey captain, Ken Pereira, has been named Team Canada flagbearer for next month’s XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi, India.
Born in Toronto of Indian parents, Pereira is the first team sport athlete to be named as Canadian flagbearer for a Commonwealth Games. He is also the first Indo-Canadian and the first field hockey player to receive the honour. He has earned over 300 international caps for Canada, and plays professionally in the Netherlands.
According to a Commonwealth Games Canada news release, Team Canada Chef de Mission Ms. Martha Deacon said Pereira’s is an inspired choice as flagbearer of the 400-member contingent for many reasons.
“Think about what he’s accomplished – three previous Commonwealth Games, two Olympic Games, four Pan Am Games, and two World Cups. He’s highly respected both on and off the pitch and his leadership qualities are unquestioned. We’re so proud that Ken will be carrying the Canadian flag at the Opening Ceremony on October 3,” she said.
The 37-year-old midfielder’s memorable goal in the 1999 Pan American Games final against Argentina launched the Canadians into the 2000 Olympics.
Pereira’s international sporting career is truly remarkable. Over 16 years as a member of Canada’s national field hockey team, he has earned more than 300 caps, achieving that milestone at this year’s Field Hockey World Cup. He is widely considered one of the best midfielders in the game and plays professionally in Holland in the world’s top league.
The modest Pereira says he couldn’t believe it when informed that he’d been selected by Commonwealth Games Canada to carry the flag. “I thought they’d called the wrong number,” he joked. “We have so many great athletes on the Canadian team that it’s a very special honor to be selected to represent them all. I literally have goose bumps every time I think about walking into the main stadium in Delhi carrying the Maple Leaf.”
The fact that these Games are being hosted in India adds even more meaning for Pereira. “It’s especially sweet because it’s the birthplace of my parents. We still have a lot of family over there and I’m sure they’ll come out and support the Canadian team!”
“Being from Canada and growing up playing field hockey in Canada, every time you get to go play abroad either in Europe or Asia — the sport's so big in these countries — it's really great for us to play in front of crowds and stuff's in the newspaper,” Pereira told CBC Sports from The Hague in the Netherlands.
“I was in Delhi for the World Cup back in March and there were great crowds there, my parents were there, my family was there, a couple of Pereira jerseys in the crowd. It's a big a difference and a great honour to play in India where my background and my parents are from," he said. “I am really, really looking forward to representing Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
“Come 2011, a lot of the qualifiers for [London] are going to be going on,” he said. “These [Commonwealth] Games are very important for field hockey, not only for us, but for track, swimming, all the sports. It's very important that we play well and compete well and learn and gain experience."
Field Hockey Canada President Ms. Mary Cicinelli said Pereira embodied all of the elements of a top international athlete: commitment, dedication and passion for his sport. “He is a role model for young Canadian athletes and we are immensely proud of his success, on and off the playing field,” he said.