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Team Canada In Afghanistan

by Tom Anselmi / Toronto Maple Leafs
Anselmi makes his third trip to Afghanistan as part of Team Canada in an attempt to boost morale among Canadian troops. Anselmi represents MLSE among Maple Leafs Alumni Lanny McDonald, Tiger Williams, Mark Laforest and President of the Leafs Alumni, Mike Pelyk.

Bitter Sweet
Wednesday, March 4, 3:22 PM

Check out the photos from Kandahar

It’s Wednesday night and the end of a bitter sweet day in Afghanistan.

Team Canada had some laughs and shed some tears.

Communications have been shut down here since yesterday evening when we learned that three Canadian soldiers had lost their lives. All external communications from the base have to stop until the families can be notified of their loss.

So bitter sweet and it was a day that included everything.

A visit to the base Hospital to meet the survivors from the incident and see once again, what the amazing medical team here does.

A ball hockey game vs. the American soldiers that Team Canada won handily.

A concert by Glass Tiger and Amanda Rehaume that had Kandahar rockin.

A repatriation ceremony on the ramp with thousands of soldiers from every country in the task force.

Many things become clear when you get to represent Leafs nation in a place like this. The impact that we have by showing support to our troops is inspiring.

Lanny McDonald buying a Tim Horton’s coffee for a soldier, or Tiger Williams faking a fight in a ball hockey game, or Mike Pelyk handing out tee shirts, the impact is undeniable.

Whats even more undeniable is the sacrifice these young men and women make every day. And sometimes the ultimate sacrifice like last night.

But to them it is not just three more names to be added to the list and to be turned into a headline by those who don't understand their profession or their conviction. It is sacrifice for a cause and a country they believe in. Just like they believe in Canada.

Canadians and the people of Afghanistan are lucky they do.

So the Repatriation ceremony is a sombre goodbye but also a new beginning and their resolve and their spirit is only stronger because of it.

To share in that spirit is a real honor you wish every Canadian could experience.


On the Ground In Kandahar
Monday, March 2, 2009  - 

Team Canada landed at the Kandahar base late on Sunday night after about 18 hours of flying that included a stop in Malagar, Spain for fuel and then to change to a Hercules at an undisclosed location in South East Asia. It’s 30 degrees here but the snow has been replaced by sand.

We spent the whole day with the troops before playing our first game and keeping a three year perfect record (no losses) in tact.

This is the third year for a team Canada mission and in that time the base has grown significantly and terrific progress has been made.

The Maple Leafs as usual, are well represented in Afghanistan with Lanny McDonald, Tiger Williams, Mark Laforest all led by Mike Pelyk, President of the Leafs alumni and your intrepid blogger. And of course, Leafs Nation is here in full force.

The Canadian soldiers are full of hope and inspiration. Each time we come here thinking we are here to raise the spirits of the troops but it is them who inspire us with their bravery and commitment. Canadians from every walk of life, from every corner of our great country, doing great things and making it seem so normal . So easy and just so "their job". How Canadian.

I’ve got to go, more tomorrow. I heard the Leafs beat the Sens in overtime. Nice!
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