Road hockey charity Five Hole For Food reaches a million pounds in donations
VANCOUVER - Our opponents broke out on a two-on-one. I was the lone man back.
I sized up the two men sprinting in my direction. To my left, calling for the pass: some guy. To my right, carrying the ball: NHL centre Rod Pelley. I decided to let Pelley make the pass.
He did, and I breathed a sigh of relief. But then, to my horror, as I turned to check the seemingly more checkable guy, he passed it back. It turned me around completely.
It wasn't a perfect pass, but it didn't need to be. I watched as Pelley dropped to one knee and put the little orange ball top corner with a one-timer that would have made Brett Hull proud. The crowd went wild. I fell down.
Stupid Rod Pelley.
Five Hole For Food (FHFF) just completed its fifth tour of Canada, and with the anniversary came an incredible accomplishment. The charity, which sends founder Richard Loat and his friends on a cross-Canada adventure, playing road hockey in 13 cities in 17 days, all in support of local food banks, reached a milion.
"The goal was to hit our millionth pound of food raised since day one," said Loat. "We hit that milestone."
One million pounds of food. And all this because a hockey blogger wanted to get out of his basement, see Canada, play hockey, and get some more Twitter followers.
"I'd be lying to you if I told you that when I started this, I wanted to start a charity," Loat admitted. "I was looking to drive across Canada. I wanted to meet other hockey writers, I wanted more followers. We were trying to build relationshps and do the social thing. And here we are five summers later."
In Vancouver especially, where the whole thing started, FHFF has become a massive event. Granville Street, one of Vancouver's busiest areas, is suddenly transformed into a road hockey paradise, with six courts teeming with eager hockey players, some of whom came down to get in a game, and some of whom happened by on their way to Starbucks or Burger King, and couldn't help themselves.
As a Canadian, I can admit it's tough to walk past a road hockey game, see an unused right-handed stick on the ground, and keep right on walking. Hockey is in our blood.
It might explain why the event continues to attract such a wide variety of participants. Men, women, children, but also local celebrities, NHL players (Vancouver was represented by Rod Pelley and Victor Bartley), and even media hotshots like Bob McKenzie, who promoted the tour this year and came out to play in Toronto.
"He's like the godfather of hockey," Loat gushed, "next to Don Cherry, and I guess because of who I hold him up to be, to see him just pick up a stick and come hang out..."
He trailed off, then picked up the thought. "Hockey just flattens the playing field. When you're on the ball hockey court, you're the left wing, he's the right wing, I'm the centre... and that is special."
"It's crazy how powerful hockey is in this country," Loat said.
As for some other countries, not so much, but Loat recognized the potential in what he's created, and this year, he began exploring ways to bring it international, launching Footy For Food in Europe.
"We held football events in the UK, in France, in Paris, outside the Louvre. We just made it happen, played in Barcelona, in Spain, and then we did stuff at the World Cup in Brazil."
Loat also has designs on starting up Hoops For Food. "Wherever street sports can be played, we can build this," he said.
The sky's the limit, but the road is the focus.