“We like this game!” PeeWee A team gives Syrian newcomers a skating lesson

CTV Montreal
Published Sunday, February 19, 2017 3:46PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 19, 2017 7:12PM EST

A group of 25 Syrian children got their first introduction to hockey on Sunday, courtesy of a PeeWee A team in Lasalle.

The event was organized by Angelo Falbo and Mike Bertoldi, the team manager and assistant coach, respectively, of the Lasalle Jaguars, along with the Canadian Alliance for Syrian Aid. Their team took to the ice in Haywark Park with the young Syrians, teaching them how to skate and giving them a crash course in the rules of Canada’s favourite sport.

“I’m not surprised a lot of people came out to support us,” said Bertoldi. “A lot of local businesses came out to support us. The parents are helping. I’m really impressed and happy.”

A fundraising page brought in $3,500 to help transport the group to the rink and to provide food, drinks, cotton candy and a sugar shack for everyone, as well as equipment available through the Montreal Canadien’s Bleu, Blanc, Rouge Foundation.

Falbo said he and Bertoldi felt they needed to do something after the Quebec City mosque shooting that left six men dead. He said his own kids had been asking questions about refugees and he felt it was important to show his kids that deep down, everyone is alike.

“We decided, let’s get our kids,” he said. “Let’s get them involved and make a difference and integrate these Syrian kids with our kids and let our kids know what they’re going through.”

Among those present were the five and seven-year-old sons of Sanaa Alkhouri, who came to Canada with them 14 months ago. She said they are very grateful for their new country and the “great chance to live in peace.”

“At the beginning it was very hard for us,” she said. “We were happy but we have so many feelings, it’s hard. We left our family there, they left their grandparents and here, without any relatives, it’s very hard for the kids in the beginning. But now it’s very good.”

As for her sons’ bourgeoning hockey careers, they are off to slow starts, as the two struggled to stay on their skates. Still, she believes her oldest will keep playing, as all his school friends are also hockey players.

“We like this game but didn’t know how to get in the right way, how to go with teams,” she said. “But this occasion it’s great, really. The kids are having a very good time.”

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