(December 3, 2005) -- Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Mats Sundin will launch the 2005-06 Maple Leaf Street Buds program sponsored by Esso on Sunday at Wellesley Community Centre. In its eleventh year, the program gives boys and girls between the ages of six and 16 years the opportunity to play organized street-style hockey in a safe and fun environment.
As honourary captain of the Street Buds program, Sundin will coach Street Buds participants and demonstrate various hockey skills. The Street Buds will also have an opportunity to match the Swedish forward's skills in several interactive zones for passing, shooting, goaltending and stick handling.
"Maple Leaf Street Buds is a great program on many levels - it recognizes the value of positive reinforcement in youth skill development and provides kids who would not normally have the opportunity to play hockey access to the game and equipment," said Sundin.
Besides emphasizing skill and healthy child development, the program also promotes the importance of teamwork and physical fitness.
"For the last eleven years, the success of the Esso Street Buds program would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of many individuals," said Karen Fraser, manager of sponsorships at Imperial Oil. "The Esso Volunteer awards recognize Toronto Street Buds staff and volunteers who exemplify leadership and an extraordinary commitment to the youth involved in the Street Buds program."
Launched in 1995, the Esso Maple Leaf Street Buds program provides more than 3,500 Toronto children an opportunity to develop their hockey skills, keep fit and have fun. Awarding participants monthly for sportsmanship and fair play, the program oversees 30 organized hockey games organized at Toronto Parks and Recreation community centres and public schools each season.
The Esso Maple Leaf Street Buds program is an initiative supported by Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Development, which increases the access, opportunity and skill development of youth in hockey throughout Ontario and Canada. Visit the community development page for more information.