Sports

Friendship Hockey brings international teams to Aldergrove

The International Friendship Hockey Tournament comes to Aldergrove Arena in March of 2013. - Submitted photo
The International Friendship Hockey Tournament comes to Aldergrove Arena in March of 2013.
— image credit: Submitted photo

It was a tradition that started in Aldergrove in 1986 and in 2013 Aldergrove will again play host to the Peewee International Friendship Hockey Tournament.

In the spring of 2013, two teams of Aldergrove Peewee and Bantam aged hockey players will represent our country in our own community at the tournament. Aldergrove will be hosting the world, with 14 teams from seven different countries competing in friendly sport.

Friendship Hockey was created by Mr. Tadakiyko Kaneiri, a Japanese business leader whose dream was to create a hockey event where players from different countries could compete in the spirit of friendship and fair play. Building relationships and multi-cultural community takes precedence over goals and wins in this event, which is held in a different country every two years.

Although players represent their country, the teams are not selected from the elite players in minor hockey.

One of the Aldergrove 2013 organizers is Lyall Sharman, who has been involved in the tournament since the 2007 tourney in New Zealand.

"We have a $90,000 budget as hosts and we raised $26,000 of this by December," said Sharman.

"We want alumni of the tournament to become involved, as homestay hosts or volunteers. We will have an alumni game in August and have other events planned to raise funds and awareness before next March."

Information on the tournament and contact persons is on the website at http://www.peeweefriendshiphockey.com/

Aldergrove will host 12 teams of 15 players each from around the world.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

In 1986 Aldergrove Minor Hockey hosted an Atom B Invitational Tournament.  One of the teams that participated was the Hachinohe White Bear from Hachinohe, Japan. Mr. Kaneiri was there.

In 1989 the citizens of the Japanese city of Hachinohe on the island of Honshu, celebrated their city’s 60th anniversary. A local business leader by the name of Mr. Tadakiyko Kaneiri had a dream to mark the occasion by hosting an International Peewee Ice Hockey Tournament for 12 and 13 year old children. He believed that bringing youth together from all over the world in an atmosphere where the emphasis was placed on fair play, sportsmanship, mutual respect and cultural exchange would develop greater tolerance and understanding and forge life long friendships.

His dream became a reality when the first Friendship Hockey Tournament was hosted in 1989 in Hachinohe. All players participating in the tournament were assigned home stay or host families for the duration of their stay in Japan. The tradition of the host families has continued in each tournament.

The Friendship Tournament is not a business or profit driven event but rather a vehicle for young ice hockey players, both boys and girls, from different countries to play against each other in the spirit of friendship and fair play while experiencing the culture of the host country. Mutual respect and understanding are two of the principal aspects of this tournament that participants learn which in turn serves them well for the rest of their lives, both on and off the ice.

At the conclusion of the first tournament, St. Paul, Minnesota offered to host the second tournament in 1991 and thus the biennial Friendship Tournament was born. When the next venue is decided upon, the tournament flag is passed to the next host country. Since the tournament’s inception it has been held in Cranbrook, BC; Christchurch, New Zealand;  Aldergrove, BC; Canberra, Australia; Tomakomai, Japan; Hachinohe, Japan; Johnson/Como USA; and most recently in Hudson, Wisconsin USA.

Aldergrove has attended every tournament and represented Canada with great pride.

The tournament prides itself on the fact that there are no losers. All participants “win” by being part of the tournament. Teams participating are not national representative teams but rather teams consisting of players who may not normally be selected to play against international teams or visit and compete in an international event. They are players who play ice hockey for the local community or town, not just to win but for the enjoyment of participating and doing what kids do best: have fun and create friendships.

HOMESTAY FAMILIES NEEDED

Help make these kids feel at home. Organizers are currently looking for families in Aldergrove to host the international hockey players during the Peewee International Friendship Tournament from March 15 to March 25, 2013. If you are interested in being a part of Aldergrove's hockey history, contact lindsay@peeweefriendshiphockey.com to inquire about being a Homestay Family.

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