Inside: Project Mongolia Day 1
In October 2018 Oval High Performance had the pleasure of helping long time partner, Leslie Global Sport with collect hockey gear for Project Mongolia: Rinks of Hope gear drive. An overwhelming response resulted in the donation of over 500 pairs of skates, hockey sticks, helmets and more which completely filled a 20ft shipping container- all destined for Mongolia. This week, Oval High Performance Hockey coach and coordinator, Ben Mackay and Leslie Global Sport founder, Nate Leslie are heading to Mongolia where the gear has already been received and they will provide series of hockey clinics in a number towns and villages in Mongolia.
Mongolia- Day 1
Day 1 of our time in Mongolia is in the books, and we are off to a pretty epic start!
For our first on-ice session, we were joined by 40 eager hockey players ranging from 10-16 years old. It was so cool to see many of these player’s in gear that was donated through Project Mongolia, and with many of them in minor hockey jerseys from associations across the Lower Mainland. It really underscored the connection between the two hockey communities.
The boys and girls on the ice had a genuine enthusiasm from the moment they stepped onto the ice, and there were lots of smiles all around. In the end, we spent almost three hours on the ice, with many of them never even stopping once to take a break. If we did not say goodbye at some point, I am sure the kids would have kept going for the rest of the day.
We were also happy to have so many of the local coaches and volunteers join us on the ice, many of them serving as translators for some of the more technical instruction. One of them was the Mongolian Ice Hockey Federation vice-President, Mergen Arslan (pictured in the tan coat between Coach Nate and myself). In every hockey community, there is at least one person that tirelessly volunteers their time to make everything happen behind the scenes. For the Mongolian ice hockey community, Mergen is that guy. After our ice session, we spent the rest of our afternoon with Coach Mergen discussing all things hockey and getting a better understanding on the current state of Mongolian ice hockey.
As for the amazing outdoor rink, it was located in an area that was historically influenced by the many Russians that lived in Ulaanbaatar many years ago. Located off of one of the capital’s busiest roads and nestled in between communist-style apartment blocks, this space had only been recently re-established as a community ice rink. The last time Coach Nate was in Mongolia, this rink was at the centre of a legal battle and was being used as a parking lot. The fact that this space is once again being used as a gathering place for so many enthusiastic young hockey players is proof that positive progress is being made in Mongolian ice hockey community.
Today was one of the unique and memorable hockey experiences I have ever been a part of. Bring on Day 2!
"Inside: Project Mongolia"