Brodie O’Keefe is looking at this upcoming week as a turning point for sledge hockey in Charlottetown.
O’Keefe, sales and events coordinator at Charlottetown’s CARI Complex, is looking forward to the coming days as the Prince Edward Island capital is set to play host to the 2008 World Sledge Hockey Challenge. The top sledge players from Canada, Japan, Norway and the United States will compete for the championship, which is taking place at CARI Complex.
Sledge hockey, says O’Keefe, isn’t well known on the Island. But, thanks to a grant from the Hockey Canada Foundation, and the hard work of O’Keefe and staff at the CARI Complex, that is about to change.
“The event will raise a great awareness of the sport,” O’Keefe says. “There is very little awareness of the sport on PEI and this event will bring great attention to the sport and the skills of these athletes.”
O’Keefe and his team of volunteers have worked hard over the past few weeks in getting set for the 2008 World Sledge Hockey Challenge. Among the main priorities was making the CARI Complex accessible to sledge hockey.
The HCF, which supports the future development and delivery of Hockey Canada programs, has identified five funding priorities. One of these priorities is accessibility and diversity. The HCF donated $12,500 to the cause of making the CARI Complex accessible for sledge hockey.
Among the numerous jobs this entailed:
• lowering the thresholds in the benches and penalty boxes to make the players’ transition from bench to ice possible
• removing a portion of the boards along the benches and replacing them with glass so players can see the action
• laying down plastic puck board in the hallways, dressing room entrances and player benches so players don’t have to get out of their sledges each time they come off the ice
• removing seats in the bench area to create more room for the sledge players
The event starts on November 18 and runs through to November 22, when the gold medal game will be played.
Noel Fader, director of the HCF, is thrilled that the HCF could help out sledge hockey and the CARI Complex.
“Over time, this strategy will result in an increased number of facilities for our National Sledge Team,” he says. “Just as importantly, it will allow us to provide people with disabilities an equal opportunity to play … thus growing sledge hockey at the grassroots level. Accessibility and diversity continue to be key components of the HCF’s long term strategy for funding.”