The New Waterford Minor Hockey Association has seen an increase in first-year players with a new registration program.
The association registered 14 new players as part of its Everybody’s Opportunity To Play program, which includes free registration for new players between the divisions of novice and midget.
“I think it shows more interest towards our program,” said association president Kyle Baldwin. “We feel we are building a solid program within a smaller-numbered association.”
In 2018-19, the new initiative had six players registered, but has since doubled the number in 2019-20, which is something Baldwin considers a benefit for future growth.
“We’re a small town and we’re only getting smaller, so we feel as though we could always have more kids playing hockey,” said Baldwin.
“I believe that’s the feeling in every association and these programs offer every child a chance to play — we’ve seen our numbers drop over the years, but we are trending in the right direction.”
Everybody’s Opportunity To Play is a program that offers free minor hockey to any New Waterford child who has never played minor hockey. There are no underlying factors and is not based on income.
The first year is completely free, however, participants are encouraged to sell approximately 400 minor hockey 50/50 tickets, thus allowing each new player to build an account for future years of registration.
“These programs are very beneficial to our kids, we’re giving kids a chance to build strong life skills, bonds and long-lasting friendships in New Waterford,” said Baldwin.
“The importance of giving our future community leaders a chance in New Waterford is something our association prides ourselves on.”
Among the 14 players registered this year, eight of those players are currently playing in the novice division.
In total, the New Waterford Minor Hockey Association has 158 players registered, with practices and home games being held at the New Waterford and District Community Centre.