Northern Hockey Lads on a visit to a Belarus orphanage. Contributed photo

Northern Hockey Lads fundraise for Asia/Europe trip

Fundraiser Dec. 11 to send Bulkley Valley players around the world, with hope to bring world back.

Of all of the best memories of a young person’s involvement in sports, that special trip they may have taken is quite often the most special.

The hard work to raise funds. The growing excitement as that special day approached. The wonder of that first step of the plane or bus. New friends that go on to last a lifetime. The list goes on.

Young hockey players going off to foreign lands find that Canada is held in an esteem that few nations receive. They discover that the rest of the word is not quite the same as it is here in our little burg in the northwest corner of British Columbia.

Hockey can be a great way to demonstrate our wonderful life and the very positive attributes that that life can show.

Geoff Clarke, the Team Director of the Northern Hockey Lads, has built a reputation for our unique community in eastern Europe and northwest arctic Russia.

Once again, he is busy in arranging a trip and working on fundraising, including the silent auction that will be held soon.

Since 2010, the group has been travelling to Lapland in Finland, to Belarus and to those arctic communities to bring hockey and it’s effect on our culture and values. The group interacts extensively with local groups with the main activities being playing hockey, visiting schools and social care facilities.

This tour from Feb. 27 to March 17, 2019 will include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Lapland in Finland. For the trip Clarke said that he knows some people who have been helping introduce a better level of hockey as they coach in China so he has been working on making a stop in Beijing on the return trip.

Tour members also get involved in coaching and teaching the sport in the successful style that has helped Canada maintain it’s continuously high international ranking.

“We use the Hockey Canada materials to help us teach the skills and they seem to be very useful,” he said.

“The trips have been special for all of us. Some of the games in arctic Russia have been held in outdoor rinks and at the end of the games the crowds have come onto the ice so they can meet the players. Some games in bigger places have had crowds of 2-3,000 people and the kids get to play KHL teams. It’s a special experience. They hold the Canadians in a special place since the 1972 Summit series,” he said.

Clarke said that he will be meeting with politicians and hockey officials to discuss having an international tournament in the Bulkley Valley. He feels that with the experience and skill that is available in the area, it would be a great experience.

Clarke said that the majority of the players come from the Bulkley Valley area and that each member of the trip is responsible for their own costs.

Players have been cutting firewood among other activities in order to raise funds. The silent auction will have goods and services donated by local merchandises.

“It’s our hope to receive merchandise support from businesses that will be part of the silent auction. We would appreciate any contribution to this effect,” said Clarke.

The auction will be held on Dec. 11 at the Evangelical Free Church, 1838 Main Street, from 7 p.m. and will feature desserts and musical entertainment.

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Northern Hockey Lads with youngsters from Minsk, Belarus. The team presented a program of hockey skills as they are taught in Canada to kids of similar age. Contributed photo

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