True Sport Foundation is committed to ensuring that sport makes a positive contribution to Canadian society, to our athletes and to the physical and moral development of Canada’s youth.
From Spectators to Participants… a story of how sport transformed a community
Constable Kenny Maher moved to the isolated Inuit community of Nain, on the north coast of Labrador, and observed an unsettling problem within the sport community.
Young people were not playing hockey. They wanted to. They were desperate to play. But they did not have the resources or equipment to do so. Mayer knew that something had to be done. “It was amazing to see the interest in hockey and the love the youth had for the game. It was unlike anywhere I’ve ever lived,” says Maher. “But the sad reality was that many children and youth didn’t have the equipment required to play.”
More than 60 percent of Nain’s 1,050 residents are under 25-years-old. The implications of inactivity on the community’s idle youth are not lost on Maher. “As a police officer, I am a true believer that programs such as minor hockey or other extra-curricular activities are the key to helping at-risk youth,” Maher says. “With the high rate of unemployment and low income of the majority of Nain families, local youth have a limited opportunity to participate in the sports provided by the community.”
Maher is quick to praise the Nain Minor Hockey Association. They work exceptionally hard to involve as many young people as possible. The kids try their best too. After a game or practice, friends swap equipment with other friends so that more kids can play. But equipment can only be passed around so often. Many young people sat in the bleachers – just watching. The passion for hockey in the community is unparalleled. “Hockey gave them something to look forward to every day,” explains Maher. Even at men’s recreational hockey games, the arena would fill with people young and old watching and enjoying the sport.
Maher shares a story about watching a group of kids skating outside on the sea ice. Some of the youths participated in the Nain Minor Hockey Program, but two brothers were unfamiliar to Maher. The brothers told Maher that they were unable to participate because they could not afford the registration and equipment. Maher explains that it was “a sad reality that I had seen all too many times.” The True Sport Community Fund, along with a matched community donation, gave Maher the opportunity to purchase and distribute new equipment. When the hockey gear arrived, Maher’s first thought was about the two brothers. “Now they are loving the Minor Hockey Program,” smiles Maher.
“Hockey in Nain was brought to a new level,” Maher explains. “The youth who were already playing the sport now have a larger group to play amongst and the other youth finally have an opportunity to play instead of just watching.” Barriers to participation were preventing Nain youth from enjoying a sport that they desperately wanted to play. True Sport’s involvement has created the resources for a far more inclusive community. But the biggest impact that True Sport has made in this community is the lack of kids sitting in the stands. Now those kids are on the ice.