Leading in to the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship the host committee
has formed the Playmakers group, bringing together business leaders from
across B.C. to serve as event ambassadors and strategic advisors, as well
as serving as a connection to local partners and businesses in Vancouver
The Playmakers will help share the message from Hockey Canada and the host
committee, and support initiatives around community engagement and the
benefits of hosting the World Juniors in their backyard.
This time, HockeyCanada.ca sat down with Bart Given, the managing director
of TORQUE Strategies.
Q: Why is it important for you to be involved in the 2019 IIHF World
BG: I think for me, being involved from day one on helping create the bid,
bringing it to life and our work as an agency in addition to my personal
effort, I just want to see it to fruition. That’s the business side. On the
personal side, I love World Juniors as a property, I’ve watched it for
years. I watch it religiously, and I just think it’s one of the anchor
events on the calendar in Canada because you know when it’s happening, you
know December 26 there’s going to be a game with Canada playing, you know
there’s almost always a game on New Year’s Eve and that Canada is going to
be challenging for a medal, so it’s a great time of the year to watch
hockey and I just love the storylines behind it.
Q: From your side, what went into the bid process?
BG: For us it was looking holistically on why British Columbia, and
specifically Vancouver and Victoria, why this was a good time for Hockey
Canada and the IIHF to come here. I think from our perspective; this market
wears the flag like no other place in Canada. I say that cautiously,
because I know there’s a lot of great cities that support Team Canada
events, but from the World Juniors in ’06, he Olympic & Paralympic
Games, FIFA events here, and Rugby Sevens, this city, and Victoria as well,
really wrap themselves in the flag and support Team Canada whenever it’s
here. So, the timing was great, the market was ready, and it just felt like
our time and we knew the event would be a tremendous success.
Q: Why is REPRESENT the right way to get people involved in the World
BG: It has so many meanings, and it’s a bit of a layered word from our
perspective. It starts with the athlete pathway, young boys, including my
son, imagine their hockey “career” ultimately ending up in the NHL, but
before that – they are representing Team Canada over the holidays. The way
that the event has been built and how it’s been marketed over the years,
they’re also representing their hometown and their junior team. That helped
us really wrap around the athlete, but from a consumer perspective too it
was important for us to show a bit of a pride point for the West Coast to
show that we represent Canada very well, and we will represent the World
Juniors very well, we’ll put on a great show and come out in full force
wearing red and white.
Q: What makes the World Juniors such a must-see event for Canadians
BG: It’s the storyline. It’s the kids playing for their country, giving it
their all and the ups and downs that come with it. It’s the emotion that
has been built in that event. It’s the timing; it’s such a perfect window
spending time with their families and we’re watching kids play hockey, it’s
the truest Canadian event that we have in that sense. We also know the
exact date on the calendar. The Grey Cup, the Stanley Cup, and the Super
Bowl are all great events that we watch en masse, but they have floating
dates. You know when this event is happening, you can book it a year in
advance, two years in advance that you’re going to be watching Canada play
at some point on Boxing Day. I think that’s part of the story that makes it
really compelling as well. Additionally, it comes down to spending time
with a broader family, and the fact that for that window, the entire
country puts away their Canucks jersey, or their Flames jersey, or their
Giants jersey and their Royals jersey and just gets behind one jersey, and
that’s Team Canada.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the Playmakers group?
BG: I think it’s just continuing to strengthen relationships with the
people who are executing the vision, and will ultimately make this event
super successful. It’s become a bit of a family.