June 17, 2024

More than 250 players took to the fields of Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West on June 1 and 2 for the annual Field Hockey BC U12 Festival.

With 19 teams from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, the festival is a chance to give young players their first opportunity to be a part of a big field hockey tournament experience.

Each team played six games over the weekend with the focus being on fun and participation. Games were played on mini fields to allow players as many touches of the ball as possible in a non-outcome related festival format.

“The emphasis is trying out the skills developed over the course of the season without the fear of failure,” says Mark Saunders, executive director at Field Hockey BC and festival lead. “No results are recorded at a festival, the emphasis is to go out and play, have fun, test your skills, and if the opportunity allows, meet and make new friends.”

Shaquille Gilbert, events and officials coordinator for Field Hockey BC echoed this message. “It’s a festival of play,” he says. “We want the players to get onto the field and enjoy themselves and enjoy the atmosphere.” Many of the participants will move onto full field performance-oriented tournaments from the U14 division upwards. “That’s when they start playing for medals.”

With a clubhouse and convenient layout of the fields, Gilbert says the complex is a great place to host this event, that’s why they keep returning to Burnaby. “The staff is amazing, they are flexible,” says Gilbert. After the games, the teams tend to stick around the fields and clubhouse.

“This year, every participant was given a festival frisbee as a gift and watching parents and players use these in their off time in between field hockey games may well result in some budding BC Ultimate players for the future,” adds Saunders. “Everyone has a chance to come together and have fun at a Burnaby Parks facility that lends itself perfectly to all that is good about organized community sport.”

As for the state field hockey in the province, Gilbert and Saunders say BC continues to represent the largest provincial player base in Canada. “Growth and retainment levels remain steady, but we would both certainly love to see more kids pick up the stick and get into the game,” says Saunders.

Find out more about field hockey and ways to participate in BC here.

Photos: Sam Corea