Aldergrove’s Friendship Hockey team has had its sights set on Japan for more than two years now.
The 17 team members who play for the Aldergrove Minor Hockey Association, have fundraised the past two years in order to pay for their trip to Japan, which they will embark on this week.
Organizer of the local Friendship league, Lindsay Thorley, says the boys are about to embark on “an experience of a lifetime.”
The Peewee-level hockey team – ages 12 and 13 – have participated in bi-annual tournaments since the team’s inception in 2017.
Aldergrove is one of two Canadian hockey teams participating, the other being a team from Cranbrook.
The founder of the Japanese-hosted tournament – businessman Tadakiyko Kaneiri – had a dream of having an international hockey tournament in his own city, Hachinohe, after attending the 1986 Minor Hockey Atom B Invitational Tournament in Aldergrove.
The first Friendship Hockey Tournament was hosted just three years after in Hachinohe.
Kaneiri “believes that bringing youth together from all over the world in an atmosphere where the emphasis is placed on fair play, sportsmanship, mutual respect and cultural exchange would develop greater tolerance and understanding, and forge life long friendships,” Thorley explained.
All of Aldergrove’s players will be assigned home stay or host families for the duration of their stay in Japan.
“The tradition of host families has continued in each tournament,” Thorley explained.
Other countries that will face-off against the Aldergrove team in Japan include various contingents from cities within Australia, Prague, Czech Republic, New Zealand and the United States.
“One of our coaches is former Friendshipper himself and one of our players will be staying with a man who played in the original tournament himself in 1986,” Thorley said.
The Aldergrove team will depart from the new Aldergrove community centre early morning on Thursday (April 25) to compete overseas.