Students in several Edmonton elementary schools received a lesson in inclusion and Canadian culture Thursday with some help from Andrew Ference.
For years, Free Footie has been a highly-successful program aimed at kids in Grades 3 to 6 who face a number of barriers that prevent them from playing sports.
The program, which has no registration fees, gives kids proper equipment and allows them to learn the sport.
It helped launch the career of Canadian National Team star Alphonso Davies, who has since signed a contract with European giants Bayern Munich.
Watch below: Free Footie founder Tim Adams chats about 17-year-old soccer star Alphonso Davies, who is on his way to Europe. Davies got his start right here in Edmonton. Gord Steinke sits down with Adams.
The program so successful that Tim Adams decided to expand it to hockey.
“It’s just an easy way to make a connection,” Adams said. “The sport part is totally secondary.
“Just the social inclusion to help kids pick up sticks and play some street hockey like we all used to do.”
Thursday morning, 300 students received free hockey sticks, jerseys and Pride Tape.
Andrew Ference says sport is a great way to promote inclusivity, give kids a sense of belonging and keep them healthy and active.
“We stress the fact that hockey is for everyone. Knowing that we’re all part of the same crew now, we’re playing the same sport, part of something — a big family — of what is hockey.”
Students were thrilled with the visit and couldn’t believe they had a chance to spend time with a former NHLer.
“It’s my first time seeing a hockey player in front of me,” said a Grade 6 student.
“I always see hockey games but not like seeing him talking to me!” he added.
The puck drops on the Free Hockey street hockey program on Oct. 9. Students will play every Tuesday in Churchill Square at 4 p.m.