BRAMPTON — Five-year-old Evan Sousa was eager to play hockey for the first time.
“It’s his passion, he knows all the players,” said mother Debbie as her son worked on some drills during the Learn to Play Hockey Program which recently concluded after six weeks, running on Saturday mornings at South Fletcher’s Sportsplex. More than 60 boys (between the ages of 4 to 10) who have never registered to play hockey took part in the program.
Brampton Hockey ran the program with the assistance of Hockey Canada to introduce players and their families to the sport. The six sessions cost $60 per player and at the end of it, participates who registered for the 2014-2015 season with Brampton Hockey can apply for a $50 discount on their registration fee.
The participants were divided into two groups, each on the ice for an hour. The Ball Hockey Association donated 30 pieces of equipment, mainly suited for the younger children aged 4 to 6. The players only needed to supply skates, a stick and a mouth guard so were able to take part without having to pay for a full set of equipment
Kemmar Trudge, a native of Jamaica registered her son, Kavente, soon to be 7 into the program.
“It was a way to learn the skills,” she said. Kavente waited along with friends Jessiah, 6 and Jidane Provost, 5 before eagerly getting on the ice.
Besides coaches from Brampton Youth Hockey, instruction has been provided by guest instructors from Hockey Canada and the Brampton Beast of the Central Hockey League during selected sessions.
When the Beast was there that was good news for nine-year -old Daniel Dosanjh. A native of England he came to Canada in 2006 and his mother Zoey said he became a hockey fan during the past year by attending Beast games. He got a chance at one of the sessions to meet Beast captain Cal Wild and posed for pictures with him and the team mascot Boomer.
The emphasis of the program is to develop agility, balance and co-ordination. The goal was to give them the confidence and sill to enjoy the sport and want to continue to play. The final session on June 28 was a Game Day.
Glenn McIntrye, general manager for Brampton Hockey said it won’t be known to after the final registration how many from this program will sign up for the upcoming season, but the response to the Learn to Play sessions has been positive.
“This has exceeded our expectations,” he said. “I though we might get 30.” The final number is more than double that at 64. This is the first time this program has been offered in Canada
“Hockey Canada approached us. They know our demographic,” he said.
With so many new Canadians in the city Hockey Canada felt this was an area that could benefit from it. With the success of the program in Brampton it seems a good bet that it might go to other areas also.