LAVAL – Despite several potholes on its way, Hockey Quebec believes that the number of registrations across the province will go up in 2022. The general manager of the federation, Jocelyn Thibault, is however aware that the accessibility to sport will have to improve greatly.
The former National League goalkeeper was logically part of the Committee on the Development of Hockey in Quebec, a group of experts who presented their report on the situation of the sport last May. Declining registrations are obviously an important topic, since a 28% decrease has been recorded over the past seven years.
The pandemic has played a role, and Thibault is already seeing that statistics should be more positive than last year.
“What we are currently seeing in terms of registrations, this year is still going well, fortunately. We don't have the final numbers yet because there's still time to register. There is also data to be received from the school side,” he said on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the launch of the Fondation Le BUT de Sports Rousseau – Groupe Gendron, in Laval.
Hockey Quebec will begin its strategic planning this week, revealed the general manager. This will be based on studies, in particular those carried out in collaboration with HEC Montréal, which will show that there is a shortfall in terms of accessibility. Less fortunate families cannot always cover the cost of registering their youngster(s), let alone the equipment.
“We know that accessibility to sport, it is a brake. This is not the only one. We know that sometimes there can be a toxic climate in certain situations, there can be unpleasant situations, ”assured Thibault, refusing to expand further on the many controversies surrounding Hockey Canada.
A valued initiative
By setting up the Le BUT Foundation, equipment manufacturer Sports Rousseau – Groupe Gendron is sending a clear message: everyone will do their part to help young people play hockey.
The chain of stores invites people to donate their hockey equipment by depositing it in large boxes provided for this purpose near their branches. The used parts will then be donated to various associations in the Montreal area, under the supervision of Hockey Quebec.
“It's for this kind of initiative that I got involved in the federation,” said Thibault, proud to be able to count on the president of Sports Rousseau – Groupe Gendron, Pierre Gendron, as the instigator of this movement.
“I have known Pierre for a very long time. We played our minor hockey against each other, and then, to have a businessman like him who gives back, who takes the leadership, […] it's incredible for us, “he said. he indicated.
In addition to equipment recovery, the Le BUT Foundation will hold fundraising activities, including Le 21h dek hockey CCM, on October 29, in Mirabel. It can also count on the support of its ambassador, Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Equipment manufacturers want to participate in the “war effort”
When he learned of the establishment of the Committee on the Development of Hockey in Quebec, Pierre Gendron wrote personally to Premier François Legault to tell him about the lack of representation of equipment manufacturers in the group of 15 experts. This decision has today led to great things for the man who acts in the shadows.
The president of Sports Rousseau – Groupe Gendron had not been contacted to be part of this group, not being a public figure. He was, however, pleasantly surprised by the return call from the government, who assured him that he was bringing an interesting aspect to the table.
After discussions with Jocelyn Thibault and Marc Denis, Pierre Gendron chose to take the situation in hand, in his own way. Thus was born the Le BUT Foundation.
“At that moment, it kicked me in the ass to do something. My employees and I had already talked about it. The idea of putting the big bins at the entrance to pick up used equipment, I had it in mind for a long time. I was already doing fundraising for other [causes], so why wouldn't I do it for sport, which gave me everything?” said the Montreal North native on Wednesday.
Drawing inspiration from his own story
Gendron was indeed very lucky growing up. Raised mainly by his mother in a difficult neighborhood, he began his career as a hockey player at four years old. She did everything so that her son could play and that he lacked nothing, even if it meant “begging for money”.
Pierre Gendron only learned about it when he was around thirty years later.
To give the same kind of opportunities to young people like him, he set up this program and will donate several pieces of equipment himself.
“I wanted to make a difference. I was not on that committee, but I told myself that I was going to do things my way. That's how I built my life, by doing actions, “he assured.
Thibault, the general manager of Hockey Quebec, knows that the equipment sells well in stores, but that not all families can afford it, especially in times of high inflation. Beyond initiatives like that of Pierre Gendron, which are welcome, we can expect a little help from the next government.
“A day like today proves the leadership in our community. […] I am not a person who waits for others to achieve my goals. Of course we will need the government. I don't know yet at what level, in what way exactly, but I have an idea, ”launched the former goalkeeper.