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Hockey league hits its stride


Coming off their third season of play, members of Canada Ball Hockey Korea think they have finally hit their stride. Though seasons past saw numbers swell, competition intensify, and sponsorship flourish, there had been some dissatisfaction among members regarding three major areas.
In-game disputes will be handled by referees trained by a referee board - a decision that was less about safety than about gaining legitimacy, according to board member Scott Lumsdon.
"There were so few dirty plays over three seasons that I could count them on one hand," said Lumsdon. "Implementing referees was about coming out of the dark ages, and about proving to new members - guys who might not know us too well - that we`re fair, not some old-boys club."
As the CBHK looks towards redrafting its 120 members onto eight new teams, a look back recalls the problems from past seasons, which stemmed from what, ironically, is likely the most appealing feature of league membership: Everyone was encouraged and empowered to help govern league matters, take various leading roles in finding sponsorship and recruiting league members, and setting up tournaments.
To handle these problems a board of governors was formed, with members elected every off-season, to decide upon league rules, schedules, and essentially decide all hockey operations. That board is now able to set a schedule to accommodate tournaments and train the referees. Members of the board have organized weekend hockey trips to compete in Daegu against the Moonkang Menace, and have scheduled breaks in regular-season play so that members can compete in tournaments in Tokyo, and ones right here in Seoul.
Finding a solution to the third problem - how to better integrate the CBHK into the Korean community - has proven to be the most elusive.
As of December 2009, there were no Korean born players in the league, and Koreans have had few opportunities and venues through which to learn anything about what the ball hockey league is and how they might join.
One solution was hit upon by board member Peter Mosca, and centers around many league members` other passion besides hockey: teaching.
"We need to demystify hockey a little," says Mosca.
"I worry that too many Koreans view the foreign community as people who come here, get paid, and don`t think twice about ever contributing anything to society aside from what we are paid to do."
On Feb. 20, the CBHK had been hoping to hold a skills development day for Korean youths to teach them the game of ball hockey, but it was rescheduled for early March because of weather issues.
"This gives us a chance to share our favorite sport with Koreans and build some common ground. Hopefully, a new generation of Korean children will fall in love with the game from a young age, just as many North Americans have, and grow to be studs like us."
The other solution is volunteer work. Though no date has been set, the board has decided to hold at least one charity event to benefit an orphanage or some other deserving project.
The new season begins Feb. 28 and anyone interested can check the league out on their website

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By Adam Bencze