Volunteers help students pick out equipment for the inner city hockey league. Ashley Wills/News Talk Radio
Kids from inner city schools in Saskatoon will continue to play hockey thanks to a $25,000 grant.
"The Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon does an outstanding job of making hockey happen in our community for children who may face barriers to participating in the game," said Glenn Sinden, RBC regional vice president for Saskatoon.
The Kinsmen Inner City Hockey League (KHL) was chosen to receive one of eight national RBC grants on Wednesday.
"We use it as an opportunity to make sure kids come to school, stay involved in school, stay engaged and behaved," said Kinsmen liaison Trevor Broker
The KHL started 18 years ago, when the club learned that virtually none of the kids at Pleasant Hill school participated in a minor sport.
"We started getting kids into equipment, we started playing at the school's outdoor rinks," Broker said.
Over the years, the number of teams has grown from six to 16. Every Saturday morning from January through March, games are played at the Kinsman rink
"It's a very coveted program in the community schools, because these kids have never played hockey, they don't have the opportunity to play hockey," said Shelly Fedrau, community school coordinator at W.P. Bate.
She said over 30 kids from the school applied to join the team, but only 16 could be chosen.
Many of these families don't have a lot of extra income, many are new Canadians, some are refugees, Fedrau said. The kids are keen to learn about what's Canadian.
"They really show up for any programs we have after school ... particularly if it’s not a huge cost to them."
In a packed basement, students gathered at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge Wednesday morning to get the right equipment for the season.
"I'm getting my stuff for hockey, skating and helmets and stuff," laughed Sukmay Manger.
The 6th grader has skated before but has never played hockey.
"I'm kind of nervous," she said.
Syed Haider, 11, played on the team last year so he could fill in his friends on what to expect.
"Mostly we get our hockey sticks and move a puck and whoever gets into the goal gets a point," he said.
The $25,000 will go towards bussing students to every game and paying for equipment that they can use until the end of the season.