Eight-year-old Kobe Poulin plays hockey like any other kid, except for one thing: he only has one arm.
That hasn’t stopped him on the ice though.
“I always feel like I’m exactly the same as everybody else, and I just love playing hockey,” Kobe said.
Kobe was born with a rare genetic disorder called Adams-Oliver syndrome. It means he’s missing his left arm below the elbow, so he plays with a special prosthetic made for hockey.
“He decorated it the way that he wanted, and so being a Canadien’s fan, and at the time, P.K. Subban, he went that way,” Kobe’s mother, Michelle Poulin, said.
Kobe been named Hockey Canada’s ambassador for this month.
“It’s an exciting opportunity. As parents we’re very proud of him, and hopefully it’s more than just being on camera and stuff, that he lives up to being the ambassador,” Poulin said.
“I think Kobe will do a great job. He’s a good sport.”
Kobe was inspired to play hockey after sitting on the sidelines, cheering on his 11-year-old brother Kai. Now the two boys spend hours practicing together.
“I was super excited for him when I saw him in the basement playing with me. I knew it was like, if he plays hockey, he’s going to be really good. And I was right. Kobe’s really good and it’s just a blast,” Kai said.
Poulin said now that Kobe has been playing sports for a few years, people are used to seeing him on the field or at the rink.
“To everybody, Kobe is just Kobe. I think for a lot of people, the arm is just something maybe the first time they saw him, they asked the questions, Kobe answered them, and they’ve moved past that,” Poulin said. “He’s proven that he’s an athlete as much as anything else and that the arm is a very small part of who Kobe is.”
“He’s lots of fun to watch. Kobe, I think anybody would say, is all heart all the time, and he’s like that in all the sports,” Poulin said.
Kobe said his favourite part about the game is playing with his friends and learning new skills.
Despite being at what some might call a disadvantage, Poulin said, her son doesn’t see it that way.
“I mean there’s days I think as he gets bigger and the level of hockey gets more competitive, there’s days that it’s going to be a struggle. Sometimes even raising the puck is a little harder. But Kobe doesn’t let that get him down,” she said.
Poulin advises parents with kids facing some sort of similar adversity to let their children give any sports they want to try a shot.
“Don’t just think right away something might not be a possibility,” Poulin said.
“Let them try. They’re their best coach. They figure things out for themselves. Often kids are extremely determined, and extremely innovative on how they come up with ways to do things.”
As for the future, Kobe does have one goal in mind.