(Photo: © Yan Huckendubler)

It is now a tradition for the Canadian Junior Team that when they go on tour or play in a competition abroad, they bring bags of collected sticks, jerseys and equipment to donate to a local program that supports youth hockey development.

For the last few months, on top of training and fundraising for their trip to India, the Canadian team organized coaching clinics for junior players in their clubs and communities and participants brought a stick or other piece of hockey equipment in lieu of payment. In total 150 sticks, 20 full sets of goal-keeper gear, 100 balls and a few complete sets of uniforms were collected. Altogether, more than 300kg of equipment traveled with the team to India in addition to their own playing kits and luggage for the competition!

On Dec. 11, during their rest day of the Junior World Cup, the Canadian players spent a couple of hours at Shivaji Stadium in Delhi, meeting a large group from Bua Sa Hockey Village India, a German based charity that promotes education and sport for children in rural Rajasthan.

The Canadian players distributed the equipment, then organized drills and mini-games, which quickly became very competitive with the local boys and girls wanting to display they skills.

“It is amazing what our communities have been doing”, said Team Manager Alvin Bissett, instigator of the projects. “It helps our young athletes realize how privileged we are in Canada, and it gives them an opportunity to give back and possibly make a difference in the lives of these local kids”.

Andrea Thumshirn, a German hockey player who started the Bua Sa Foundation in 2009, was very appreciative of the Canadian “Make a Difference” initiative.

“For two years I have been running a hockey academy for under-privileged children in Rajasthan,” said Thumshirn. “The Canadian team brought busloads of hockey equipment all the way from Canada. They are donating it to us so that we can open more hockey villages in Rajasthan. The kids will have big, big eyes open and a great future.”

“The main reason we came to India this week was for the Junior World Cup but at the same time it means a lot to us to give back to the community, both here in India and back at home,” said Canadian defender and co-captain Gordie Johnston. “What Alvin has done here is truly inspirational. Every year he values giving back to the community and this is one of his initiatives that he has brought on multiple tours. The amount of work he puts in to giving back is truly admirable.”

For the children, the session with the Canadian players was the cherry on the cake of an exceptional 3-day road trip, during which they also attended a full day of Junior World Cup matches at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, met some players of the German team and were even invited for a meal at the German Embassy in Delhi alongside the players’ families.

Information on Hockey Village India can be found at http://www.hockeyvillageindia.com.