Game on

Western Canada’s biggest ball hockey tourney gets bigger

The fourth annual Le Classique ball hockey tournament, the largest of its kind in Western Canada, has outgrown its original location and is moving to the Festival du Voyageur site in St. Boniface.

The first three years of the 3-on-3 ball hockey tournament took place in the parking lot of Le Garage Café, where co-founders Rob Tétrault and Marc Foidart conceived the project in 2012. However this year’s event has gotten too big for the Provencher Boulevard bar parking lot. 

Le Classique has fortified their partnership with Festival du Voyageur and moved the tournament to the Festival grounds to accommodate the event on Feb. 5 to 6. Organizers hope to double the participation for the fourth edition. 

“It’s a big partnership. The grounds are perfect and they’re providing a lot of infrastructure,” says Rob Tétrault, co-founder of Le Classique. 

New features to this year’s event include a large heated outdoor tent that will serve as licensed beer garden, more lighting and a designated “Icemaker” to maintain the playing surfaces.

Jean-Luc LaFlèche, the director of operations for Festival du Voyageur, hopes to make a bigger impact by hosting the event. 

“We have four rinks this year, a better spectator area and fire pits. We are also making it more kid-friendly with face painting, mascot appearances and a performance from Festival performer, Mr. Circus,” LaFlèche says.

“The goal is for it to look a lot better and to have a nicer event.”

Growing up in rural Marchand, Man., Tétrault had played ball hockey his whole life and saw an opportunity in organizing an event around the game.

“Nobody was doing it, we wanted to do something fun,” Tétrault says.

“We wanted it to be the next (MTS) Super Spike.”

Tétrault notes that the main objective behind the event is to raise awareness and money for CMV Canada, an organization that aims to eradicate congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections.

The CMV virus is related to the viruses that cause chicken pox and infectious mononucleosis (mono) and is spread through close contact with body fluids. 

“Our son was born with it but I’d never heard of it. My wife and I promised ourselves we would do something about it, and that was eight years ago,” Tétrault says.

In 2013, Le Classique – the first fundraising event in support of the CMV awareness – was held, raising $7,000 for the cause. However, no group or organization existed in Canada for the founders to give their money to. 

“There was no foundation, we created it out of necessity. In 2014 it became a registered charity.”

The Canadian CMV Foundation is now a national non-profit organization.

Michelle Tétrault, a trustee with Le Classique and the wife of Robert, says that the event brings the community together in a positive way.

“So few people know about a virus that’s so common. We’re the only ones in Canada doing this,” she says. Parents across Canada have reached out to the tournament and the foundation, wanting to help out and do something similar.

“Think of how much better it could be if it were across the provinces,” she says. 

Le Classique will be held on Friday and Saturday Feb. 5 and 6 at Whittier Park at the Festival du Voyageur site at 866 Saint Joseph St.

Published in Volume 70, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 4, 2016)

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