Nova Scotia

Teens teach Syrian refugees how to play floor hockey

A team of high-school aged hockey players spent Saturday evening in Halifax teaching about 10 Syrian newcomers how to play floor hockey.

'I like hockey now,' says Alaa Alhraki, who came to Canada 6 months ago

Nathan Decker with the Cole Harbour White Midget X team teaches two-year-old Mohammed Ealtayar how to stickhandle. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Members of the Cole Harbour White Midget X team spent Saturday night in the gym at Armbrae Academy in Halifax teaching Syrian refugees how to play floor hockey.

One of the newcomers was Alaa Alhraki, 25, who moved to Canada six months ago. He said he appreciated learning the game.

"I like hockey now," Alhraki said. "The community, the communication, anything here with community, that's good hockey."

There was a big age range in players, with the youngest player being five and the oldest players being in their 20s. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Ryan MacKenzie, the team's assistant coach, was impressed with the enthusiasm the Syrians displayed.

"Their attitudes are great. Everything is 'Thank you, thank you, thank you,'" he said.

The floor hockey lessons are the latest effort the hockey team, formerly known as the Auburn High Eagles, has made to give back to the community.

There were about 10 newcomers taking part in the game. The youngest player was five and the oldest were in their 20s.

On the sidelines, Nathan Decker spent time teaching two-year-old Mohammed Ealtayar how to stickhandle. At first, the toddler kept picking up the ball with his hand, but as the night went on, he started to get the hang of it.

MacKenzie said Sylvia Gawad, owner of Piece of the East, helped arrange the game of shinny.

He said that while the game was planned as a one-off, it could happen again.

After the lessons wrapped, everyone got together for a big group photo. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

The lessons, MacKenzie said, were a great way for the team to learn more about the Syrians.

"With all the news and all the things you hear on social media, it's hard to form your own opinion," said MacKenzie. 

"To get to know [them] right from the personal level, these guys are all in it for the fun. I know personally I'm proud to see these guys on the team give back."

About the Author

Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.