The Chestermere Pond Hockey tournament is returning for its seventh year! What started as a small tournament with 3 or 4 rinks for the community to enjoy has now become an event that has more than 100 teams joining from all across Western Canada.
Tournament Organizer Alex Halat said the idea behind it was to give families the same great memories he grew up with as a hockey lover.
"One of my fondest memories growing up is just playing pond hockey with my buddies and that still resonates in my head 40-45 years later," he said.
Halat added there's a family division in the tournament just for fun as well, so everyone is welcome to enjoy the day. With 6000-7000 people a day expected, along with 100 hockey teams and 38 ringette teams, Halat says the event has become so huge that it requires a lot of volunteer work.
"This event wouldn't take place without the volunteers, and a lot of this stems from the world's longest hockey game we just had this year, and a lot of those volunteers have come over now and they're helping us run this event."
With the tournament going from December 27-29, this means the volunteers are working during their Christmas holidays to make sure the event goes well. Halat is very grateful to everyone who puts in the work to make it possible. For Halat, this event is about more than just hockey, as he sees it as a way to bring the community together and create lasting memories for kids and families at a special event. It's also a charity event, so the registration fee for each team is $450. However, Halat explained they do their best not to turn a team away, so even if you don't have the money he asks that you still reach out if you want to join.
"We've had some generous people step up, and in a sense they want to sponsor teams. So we just actually posted on our Facebook and Instagram that if teams can't afford to play, reach out to me directly and we should be able to potentially find sponsors. We typically will never turn away a kid, we'll never turn away a team. Obviously, we're trying to raise as much money as we can for local charities and not-for-profits, but at the same time it's about creating memories and just building a good vibe so if people don't have the means of paying to get into these tournaments reach out to us, we'll find a way to get you in."
This year the tournament is raising the money for Camp Chestermere, Chestermere Food Bank, and Synergy. He added if there are any extra funds they'll help out other charities as well.
To join this year's Chestermere Pond Hockey tournament can contact Alex at email@example.com, or visit the group's website.
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