Playing minor hockey is a rich tradition among many families, but for parents who have never played themselves, signing their young ones up can be overwhelming financially.
Fortunately, for the third year in a row, the folks at Manulife Securities in Invermere will be enabling first-time hockey players with equipment.
“We felt like there were probably some parents sitting on the fence who didn’t want to take the risk of buying the equipment, paying the fees of putting their kid in hockey, and then having the kid decide they don’t like it,” said Brendan Donahue, the financial advisor for Manulife Securities who co-ordinates the program.
The equipment sharing begun after Mr. Donahue noticed nearly-new equipment was getting wasted. During his first year as a hockey dad, a friend of his son’s joined for his inaugural season, requiring the parents to purchase a brand new set of equipment, in addition to the minor hockey league fees.
“And by November he had decided he didn’t like it, and his parents were stuck with that set of gear,” Mr. Donahue said.
The team at Manulife want to help parents who are unsure about signing their children up for hockey.
“It’s just a thing that our office does,” he said about the three staffers at Manulife Securities. “I played hockey myself, and our office is very supportive of minor sports for kids.”
The program, which operates without a name, provided three children with equipment in its first year, and six or seven last year. The volunteers expect to help out the same number of kids this year as last.
“We want parents to become more prone to putting their kids into hockey to give it a try,” Mr. Donahue said.
He said any parents contemplating hockey can qualify, as the program imposes no income requirements.
“It doesn’t matter to us if parents have a lot of money or a little,” he said. “If it’s something they’re a bit hesitant on, we’ll help. It’s very intimidating to go out and buy equipment if your kid has never played.”
The program mostly focuses on children between the ages of five and eight years old, with the odd nine and 10 year old. After that age range, it becomes more difficult to equip players with hockey gear, Mr. Donahue said.
“It’s a stressful thing for parents who don’t know. We can sit them down and give them a whole bag of stuff so they know they’re getting the proper gear.”
The gear being offered is new and gently used. Anyone who is interested in benefitting from the program, or looking to support it, can call Mr. Donahue at 250-342-6441, or stop by Manulife Securities, which is located at 712 10th Street in Invermere.