The Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) is excited to announce the recipient communities across the province that received free equipment at the start of the season designed to encourage new hockey families to try out the sport.
The program, known as Player and Goalie Assist, selected Associations are given full sets of free CCM player and goalie equipment sized for U9 and Below age groups. A total of 76 Associations were selected to each receive a full set of goalie gear, and 10 Associations received 5 full sets of player gear, with 10 other Associations receiving both goalie and player gear.
These Assist programs make it easier for Associations to help bring in new hockey families to the sport without them facing any financial barriers or having to make the commitment of purchasing equipment. Each set of equipment can be used by the local Association at its discretion, either loaning it out for the season or giving directly to players to keep as needed.
Many of the recipient Associations are located in areas with varying socioeconomic backgrounds. In the town of Pelham, located in the Niagara area, it is a mix of families that live in rural and urban communities. That can bring its own set of challenges when it comes to player registration.
“There was a family in the community who inquired about registering their two young boys in minor hockey. When they found out the cost of equipment and registration, they decided to stick with ball hockey for another year,” said Patrick Dooling the Treasurer of Pelham Minor Hockey. “The Player and Goalie Assist program will alleviate that barrier to them and allow those two kids to play (ice) hockey next year.”
Pelham currently has a stash of used goalie equipment in varying condition in a storage area at the rink for players who may need to use it during the season. The collection currently doesn’t have any player equipment. Receiving gear from the Player Assist program changes that.
“Other than lost and found gear and people that might donate hand me downs, we haven’t had anything to provide families with an opportunity to get involved in hockey without a significant outlet,” said Dooling. “This equipment will augment our goalie equipment stash with really nice player equipment and give five or six kids then chance to get into hockey.”
Ian Blanchard, a convenor, believes the program can help grow the game in the community.
“Hopefully it keeps our numbers up and we keep more kids playing hockey for a longer amount of time and they continue to have fun and this can take the stress off of them,” he said.
All Associations were encouraged to apply for the Assist programs. The OMHA runs the Player and Goalie Assist programs together, sending out the equipment at the start of the season to assist with registration.
“Programs like Player Assist and Goalie Assist are crucial in helping our Associations remove some of the challenges in bringing young players into the game,” said OMHA Executive Director Ian Taylor. “We hope that these programs can help alleviate some stresses within our communities and encourage new families to try out hockey.”
The full sets of equipment include:
Goalie Assist: catcher, blocker, chest protector, pads, stick, bag
Player Assist: shin pads, pants, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, helmet, neck guard
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