Last year I was witness to a remarkable event of sportsmanship. In a world where we are driven to win and succeed at all cost, it was an event that made me take a step back and think.
I would need to set the background and explain a bit more.
The Newcastle North Stars Atoms team (6 to 10 year olds) were playing Liverpool. In previous years Liverpool had handed out many a flogging due to having an exceptional player who dominated the ice, however this year he was no longer there.
These kids may have had limited time on the puck due to their conquering hero, were now expected to compete with other well balanced teams.
The North Stars set up a lead that could easily have blown out to a cricket score and for the kids winning, they would still have smiles ear to ear.
What happened next would make any sporting parent proud.
Newcastle Coach, Rob Duchemin made a call, “When we skate the puck up the ice I don’t want us going past their blue line. Turn the puck over and let them skate it up the ice. Let them score”.
Every child thought about it for a very short moment before all agreeing this is what they would do.
The kids from Liverpool skated the puck up the ice. They gave it 100% and the delight on their faces, was something that really gave you goosebumps when the puck cruised over the line for a goal.
Could this be enough to keep them in the sport, keep them off the X-Box or Playstation?
To them it didn’t matter how or why, it just mattered that they had moments of joy that could galvanise their love of the sport for life.
Four goals later the world seemed a smaller place, they could achieve anything.
All of us watching the game, whether we knew what was happening or not, witnessed something that day, a sense of fair play and great sportsmanship.
As a writer and possible future coach, that moment made me realise that these 8 to 10 year old kids bought into an idea or concept that the sport was bigger then themselves.
If these kids got disenchanted and left the sport, then so did their competition.
These kids will develop into our next generation of Ice Hockey players and future leaders.
Does the same kids names on the scoresheet weaken the team in general??
I also learnt that if I was to be a Coach of any description and for any sport, I could have no greater role model than Rob Duchemin.