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Flames, Hitmen join Calgary's novice players in CSEG initiative

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames and Calgary Hitmen will be skating alongside every novice player in the city this season.

Through the Flames Foundation, the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) will donate $95,000 to Hockey Calgary. The donation will provide each novice team with away association jerseys and socks.

“It’s all about the youth and grassroots hockey is really one of the pillars of our foundation,” CSEC chief operating officer and Flames Foundation for Life board member John Bean said. “We’re really excited to support young kids at this age and allow them an opportunity to keep playing. It’s more and more expensive to play hockey. If we do our small part to help alleviate a little bit of the cost through a jersey purchase program, we’re really excited and think it’s a good step in the right direction.”

The joint initiative will help novice age groups in Calgary.

“It shows how committed the Calgary Flames organization is to the city of Calgary,” Hockey Calgary executive director Kevin Kobelka said. “They’ve always said they wanted to contribute to grassroots sports and they’re focusing on that commitment. We work hand-in-hand on a number of different programs.

“This jersey program is great, but probably even more important is our Flames Even Strength Foundation. It’s been going for 17 years and over $1.4 million going back to kids that might not have had the chance to play the game. We need to grow the base. The things that we at Hockey Calgary are doing and what the Flames organization are doing are helping kids get into the game.”

Each jersey will have logos of the Flames and Calgary Hitmen on opposite shoulders.

“It’s awesome,” Bean said. “I have a son that played novice and it’s so cool to see the pride. There’s pride in those two logos. Those kids also connect with those logos being from Calgary. We want to create fans for life. It’s awesome to see those logos on those jerseys.

“They get laces too, right. They get laces with Flames and Hitmen logos and I think they’ll all be pretty tickled to string those on the skates and see them on the ice.”

Novice teams will also have the opportunity to sell ‘The Home Team’ book to help raise funds. ‘The Home Team’, written by Holly Preston and illustrated by Val Lawton, features the adventures of three boys who, after watching a Flames practice, fell in love with their local hockey team, and discover what it takes to play for their hometown club.

All 130 novice teams in Calgary will have the opportunity to sell the book.

“The Flames Foundation is always looking for ways to support grassroots sports,” Bean said. “That’s one of our pillars. We’re always brainstorming looking for ways and opportunities to help in a variety of ways. The novice program is a great way. Our Flames EvenStrength program is another great way to encourage and give people a chance to play hockey. That’s what we want to do, just create an opportunity for more and more kids to play hockey.”

Further funding for registration fees are available through the Flames EvenStrength Program. The Flames EvenStrength program was implemented in partnership with Hockey Calgary in 1998 to help those children and families who cannot afford the cost of registration fees. It is the largest beneficiary under the grassroots sports and recreation pillar of the Flames Foundation for Life.

Since the program’s start, over $1.2 million has been distributed to over 3,800 kids in hockey.

Last season, the Flames Foundation for Life distributed over $2.6 million in support of education, health and wellness in amateur and grassroots sports.

“For me, going to the rink and seeing the smiles on everybody’s faces, seeing the young kids we had here today excited to put on that jersey for the first time, that’s what it’s all about,” Kobelka said. “The wins and losses, that’s secondary. Lets keep the kids active. Lets keep the kids having fun and enjoying the great game of hockey.”

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