Giving kids a shot at hockey through First Shift

Less fortunate youth will get the opportunity to play hockey this season thanks to a program that will be offered in Fernie.

Oct. 29 will be the welcoming event for The First Shift program in Fernie. The Fernie Minor Hockey Association (FMHA) has teamed up with Hockey Canada, Canadian Tire and Bauer with an initiative to get first time players into the sport at the Fernie Memorial Arena. For $199, tax included, youth aged six to 10 will get the 12 pieces of hockey equipment needed to join the sport. In addition to new gear, players will also receive an hour of ice time once a week for six weeks that will aim to teach the new players to skate in a four student to one coach ratio.

“Hockey Canada, Canadian Tire and Bauer joined to provide this program to kids across Canada. They wanted more kids to have an opportunity to try hockey,” said the president of the FMHA Tracey Kelly. “Many kids don’t get the chance for a variety of reasons.  This program offers an opportunity to get top notch equipment and coaching for little cost and a short term commitment right at their home arena.”

According to Kelly, the program will run to the end of the calendar year.

“The welcome event is Oct. 29 at the Fernie Community Centre, which will be followed by six on ice sessions running into December,” she said. “Kids who have signed up will be fitted by experts and equipment will be shipped in ahead of time.”

The program is intended for children that have not played organized hockey to try the sport out. Equipping them with more than just gear, athletes will learn the basics of the sport with certified coaches.

“We have fully certified coaches in our organization who have completed coaching certification, risk management courses and undergone criminal and vulnerable person screening who will be volunteering their time to offer this program,” said Kelly.

There are 30 spots at the Fernie Camp with spaces still available. Kelly expects to have a full camp so she encourages preregistration through Thefirstshift.ca.

“We hope to be able to help more kids in the community get involved in our national sport. I think there are families out there who would like to see their child get the experience without making a big financial and time commitment. It’s an opportunity to try without a lot of risk,” said Kelly. “If your child likes it, great, then you look at options to joining organized hockey etc. and we can help you with that piece. For families who want their child to get involved in organized hockey and are requiring assistance, we get great support from community agencies with that. We can help.”