A new hockey development camp in Saskatchewan is breaking major barriers in sport by providing opportunities for people in remote communities.
Tyadg McGauley is the founder of OM Hockey Systems, an obstacle-based skills and training program for aspiring hockey players across the province.
“The cultural fabric of the country is hockey,” McGauley said. “The conclusion I came to is that there are huge holes in the ways that we develop hockey players especially at the highest levels.”
Many players participating in the program live in remote Indigenous communities located hours away with few, if any, options to play hockey.
McGauley says the sponsored travel program allows equal opportunity for those who would normally face challenges accessing the game.
“Indigenous people are some of the most neglected members of our hockey community,” McGauley said. “We’re going to be running the first professional-grade programming for First Nations. I don’t think that has ever happened before.”
The program is aiming to tackle stereotypes on and off the ice while also inspiring others by bringing out people of all skill levels.
“I’m really excited,” said player Tayla Cappo of the Muscowpetung First Nation. “This is the first camp I’ve ever joined.”
“There are a lot of good players out there who I feel their skills get under-looked,” said player Bostin Bergen of the Carry the Kettle First Nation.
McGauley says a big part of the program is the confidence it builds in young players.
“We realized that these kids are building a foundation for their self worth with this new found competency in hockey,” McGauley said.
Mentors also play a major part in the program who relish in the role of sharing a nation’s love of the sport.
“I really like that I get to meet other people from around Saskatchewan and see their skill level and how they play,” Bergen said.
“It’s really exciting to do this because you can accomplish anything you want to when you come out of your comfort zone,” Cappo said.
McGauley says he is grateful to offer this opportunity to anyone who calls Canada home.
“Canada is a very young country with many different cultures inside of it, but the one thing that unifies us all is the love of this game of hockey,” McGauley said.
The hockey development program runs sessions throughout the summer.
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