by Rhonda Massad
Ile Perrot’s Theodore Gallant dreams of going to the Paralympic games one day to compete on the Canadian National Sledge team. Theo is eight years old.
“I love playing hockey,” said Theo. “I really hope I can make it to the Olympics one day.”
Gallant is off to a great start as part of the Montreal Sledge Hockey league for the second year in a row, where he practices at least once a week at the Howie Morenz arena. His father Vincent is his coach and as much as he would love for Theo to call him “Coach” while on the ice, Theo can’t shake seem to shake the habit.
Last Sunday, February 4, at the Dollard Des Ormeaux Civic Centre there was a buzz of excitement as the Montreal sledge hockey team played for the first time in the West Island. The idea behind the event was to raise awareness as well as encourage potential players to try it out.
“We need a couple of dozen players to start the West Island league,” said Peter Quilliam, father of 19-year-old player, Raphael Simoneau. “The participants of all ages play together, from ages six to nineteen. There are varying levels of disability making it possible for us to mix ages. The idea today is to help raise awareness and maybe reach people who may want to try it out.”
According to Quilliam, depending on the upper body stamina an adult can be called on to push the player around the ice, while others use sawed-off hockey sticks fitted with spikes to push themselves along.
Dollard des Ormeaux Mayor, Alex Bottausci, was present to drop the puck.
“It is the first time we are hosting this sport, and I think it is fantastic,” said Bottausci. “It will stretch our resources and call into question our facilities moving forward. Although we are up to code from a physically impaired aspect, the question we are working on now is; What can we do as a community center to host events as such and how it would impact our current programming.”
The mayor confirmed that he and his council would be looking into retrofitting parks to be better equipped to include all residents including youth and seniors with challenged mobility.
“We want our programs to be accessible and inclusive to all our residents,” the Mayor explained.