A hockey team for children with special needs is set to get a big boost in international attention.
The Capital City Condors has become an arm of the Bell Capital Cup tournament, which attracts teams from across the globe, said Condors president and co-founder Jim Perkins.
“It’ll give the program huge visibility,” he said, adding “Not just ours, but special hockey in general.”
Jim and his wife Shana founded the Condors, a hockey club that caters to youth ages six and up with intellectual and physical disabilities. The team participates in the Special Hockey International Tournament but this will be the first mixed tournament for the Condors.
“It’s going to be huge for the kids, that part, for our club,” said Jim. “Hockey’s just a conduit for them to belong to something.”
Last year’s Bell Capital Cup saw 410 teams participate from 19 divisions with more than 7,000 players. Teams from Canada, the United States, Finland, Germany and South Korea competed in the tournament.
“They’ll be treated as another team at the Bell Capital Cup,” said Shana. “They’re being included and integrated.”
Special needs hockey teams from Cambridge, Orangeville, Guelph and the Kawarthas will also participate in the tournament, said Jim.
The 2013 Bell Capital Cup runs from Dec. 28 to Jan. 1. Requests for comment from the organizers of the tournament went unanswered as of press time.
Aside from participating in the Bell Capital Cup, the Condors are also gearing up to host the 2015 Special Hockey International Tournament. The team put forward its bid in 2011 after seeing how much the players enjoyed participating in the event.
“We’re blessed doubly to be part of both (tournaments),” said Jim.
NO MORE WAIT LIST
Jim and Shana have been working tirelessly to build the Condors club. Now in its fifth year, the Condors boasts two Kanata teams, a team in Rockland, one in Cambridge, Ont., and another in Gatineau. The Condors is also set to debut teams in Carleton Place, Huntsville, Ont., and Calgary in the new year.
“It’s crazy and awesome that so many more kids get to do this,” said Shana. “Everybody’s off the wait list and I’m still taking new players.”
Almost a year ago, the Condors were struggling to accommodate everyone who wanted to play; there were at least 20 children still on the wait list to become a part of the team.
“We never imagined this is where it would go,” said Shana. “It’s crazy but awesome.”
Registration is ongoing all season long, she said. Player registration is available on the website at capitalcitycondors.org.
The Perkins added they are always looking for help on and off the ice, and are in specific need of adult volunteers. Volunteer registration is also available on the website.
She and Jim are also looking at starting a hockey league for blind and visually impaired players, as well as a team for those who are confined to wheelchairs.
“They only have sledge hockey right now,” said Jim. “Some don’t have the upper strength.
“We’re working to modify chairs so kids confined to wheelchairs can play.”
The Perkins will be working with Courage Canada, based in Vancouver, to develop hockey for people who are blind.
“Once we get it established here, we’ll have the know-how...we can share it,” said Shana.