♪ Everybody against the coaches! Coach Michel Breau encourages kids in the Gloucester Centre Minor Hockey Association’s hockey initiation program. He has been coaching new players for a few weeks now. Catch up, Liam! Most of the little ones in red and purple are young Syrian refugees. And the big smiles on their faces tell you how much fun they’re having. They’re great kids. They’re wonderful kids. They just light up like Christmas trees. When you give them an opportunity to do things like this, they… well, kids are kids, regardless of where they come from, right? Hurry up guys! The young Syrians’ enthusiasm is evident, and others are impatiently waiting for their turn, as Chris McArthur, one of the volunteers behind the initiative, explains. All of our participants come from two buildings within our jurisdiction that are right next to each other, and every time I go to those buildings I have more kids that come out and say, “I want to play.” We actually started with only 10 participants, and I had two kids that came every time and said, “Mr. Chris, can I play too now?” And that’s why you keep trying to expand. The community works hard to make sure these kids get to learn their adopted country’s national winter sport. It starts with… once a week I do what we call “Cougar Uber,” where I put the word out that I need this many seats in cars and vehicles to be picked up at this address at 7:00 o’clock in the morning, and I have yet to have not enough seats. On top of that, I have community support from the local Ford dealership and rent-a-cars who have provided us with two large vehicles so we can capacitate a minimum of half the participants and their gear – because not all cars are designed to hold four or five hockey bags – at no cost. Okay, Nihan and Mohammed, go! These children will soon be able to join real teams, which should make it easier for them to integrate into Canadian society. In addition, the entire hockey community wins by reaching these kids. First, we need players. We were talking about how we can get everyone interested in playing hockey. New Canadians who come here, what better way to… to adopt their new country… to play our… our national sport. But not just that. It helps them integrate, but it also…it helps our association grow as well… to maintain interest in hockey. Can you stand up? Get on your skates? Hockey has one language, so teaching the kids how to skate is no different. Everyone agrees that the experience is more than positive. And with a little luck, it may repeat itself elsewhere. Hockey Canada’s mandate is to make sure that we’re as inclusive as we can be – that we’re wanting to encourage all kids, guys and girls, to play the game. And the idea is that they start with the very best fundamentals imaginable and hopefully they grow to love the game and they become players long into their sixties like I am. One, two, three, have fun!