Inside: Project Mongolia
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.
Ben caught us up on the development of this project before he hopped on a plane to meet Nate in Mongolia, from one hockey community to another…
Project Mongolia: one hockey community helping support another hockey community
In its most basic form, Project Mongolia is one hockey community helping support another hockey community on the other side of the world! In October, we asked everyone in our hockey network to donate any unused hockey gear during a two day gear drive. With help from the Richmond Oval as one of the main collection points, we were visited by so many individuals and families doing what they could to help out. In the end, the results were truly amazing: together as a community we had completely filled a 20ft shipping container with hockey equipment destined for Mongolia. With over 500 pairs of skates, hundreds of hockey sticks, helmets and other items of equipment, this donation will have a huge and lasting impact on making the game more accessible in Mongolia.
The origins: Leslie Global Sport
To understand the origins of Project Mongolia, we must go back three years. My Leslie Global Sport and Oval High Performance coaching partner, Nate Leslie, offers an online hockey training program to players and coaches looking to get a better understanding of the game. Despite having members from around the world, Nate was surprised when he received a message from one of his members in Mongolia. After making contact, it was not long before Nate and his brother Boe were making plans for what is now known as Part I of Project Mongolia.
During this trip, Nate and Boe toured Mongolia with a film crew – the end result was captured in the feature length documentary, Project Mongolia: Rinks of Hope. On this trip, they took to the outdoor rinks and ran camps for hockey players and coaches throughout the country. They were blown away by the passion these grass roots hockey communities had for the game. Despite the cold climate and natural outdoor rinks, there was a lack of access to equipment, and it was not uncommon for 2-3 kids to share the same pair of skates. With this previous trip and with the awareness raised through the documentary, the groundwork was laid for a new chapter of Project Mongolia – making the game more accessible for Mongolian hockey players.
Next Phase: Hockey Week in Mongolia
With the shipping container and load of gear having already been delivered, the next phase of this Project will culminate with Hockey Week in Mongolia. With the support of the Canadian embassy and the mining companies that were generous enough to donate the shipping container used to collect gear, Nate and myself will be travelling to Mongolia to promote the game and run a series of clinics. With all of the equipment received, we are hoping there will be even more hockey players that be able to step on the ice with us for a fun week of hockey.
For me, this will be my first time travelling to Mongolia. I have been lucky enough to travel playing the game I love before, but I am expecting this to trip to be like no other. I am excited to explore a new country, hit up some epic ODR’s (out door rinks) and share a common passion with people on the other side of the world. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and must thank: the Canadian Embassy in Mongolia, the Mongolian Ice Hockey Federation, Erdene Resource Development, Petrovis, Major Drilling, Redpath, Capitron Bank, and of course the Richmond Oval and the amazing hockey community that we are a part of. We are hoping this trip will make a significant impact on an entire sport in a country – I look forward to taking over the OvalHP Instagram page and will do my best to share my experiences in Mongolia with you all!
Article by Ben Mackay; photos provided by Mergen Arslan (president of Mongolian Hockey Federation), sent to us by Senior Trade Commissioner of the Canadian Embassy in Mongolia, Steven Basadur.
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