Two weeks ago, a group of youngsters from Finglas, Dublin joined forces with youngsters from East and West Belfast for the 2010 Giant HEROS Programme. In all, 34 young people from these three areas participated in a cross-community and cross-border ice hockey camp at the Dundonald International Ice Bowl from Sunday, 8th August until Friday, 13th August.
The programme was run in a joint effort by three youth organisations; The Bridge Youth Club (Belfast), Finglas Youth Service and Corpus Christi Youth Club (Belfast) in partnership with the very successful Canadian H.E.R.O.S. (Hockey Education Reaching Out Society) and the Belfast Giants, with tremendous support from the George Best Foundation, Co-operation Ireland, Castlereagh Borough Council, Dr Peter Ting and even some help from the Irish Ice Hockey Association.
The preparations for the camp have been ongoing for months and months culminating with the week long ice hockey camp. After a brief meet, greet and covering all the rules for the week, the participants were able to enjoy a BBQ on the Sunday evening before getting to work the next day.
From there, the participants were on the ice twice every day as all the volunteers thought them the finer skills of ice hockey before playing a Final Game on the Friday evening. The progression the children made in their ice hockey skills was tremendous and Norm Flynn (H.E.R.O.S. Executive Director) said “there were a small group of about five children who couldn’t stand at the beginning of the week but they played like Crosby (Sidney) in the Final Game.”
However, the camp is not just about what happens on ice but “is as much about their personal development off the ice as their hockey skills on the ice. They will develop real friendships with each other, face and overcome some big challenges together, and learn how to work more effectively with their differences as well as what they have in common” said Todd Kelman (General Manager, Belfast Giants) before the camp.
The IIHA were very fortunate to be able to assist in this programme, albeit in a very small way, but nevertheless the IIHA was delighted to help in anyway possible. Not too long before the camp was due to start, the organisers realised they were short some of the equipment needed. Contact was made with the IIHA and luckily enough, the association was able to provide the missing equipment.
This is a terrific programme and a fantastic week that will hopefully last long into the future. All those who organised and support the programme should be immensely proud of themselves as should each of the players and the many volunteers who helped out throughout the week. Well done to all!
More information can be found here:
H.E.R.O.S. – http://www.heroshockey.com
Belfast Giants – http://www.belfastgiants.com
Co-operation Ireland – http://www.cooperationireland.org
George Best Foundation – http://www.georgebest.com