Competitive junior hockey is expensive but thanks to a new program, savvy parents can let their kids give hockey a try with enrolment and equipment bundled for $199.
Bauer Hockey Inc. and Hockey Canada have announced the next phase of their Grow the Game partnership, The First Shift.
The pilot program will launch this fall, offering kids six-week sessions to ease them into the sport in select Ontario and Nova Scotia cities. The plan is to expand the program to more cities across Canada in the coming years.
“It’s not that hockey is too expensive to play,” says Mary-Kay Messier, director of brand initiatives at Bauer Hockey Inc. and sister of NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier. “It’s that it’s too expensive to try.”
Hockey in Canada has experienced historically low participation growth rates over the last few years. Today, approximately 10% of Canadian families and their children choose to enrol in the sport.
Bauer’s research suggests that perceived high enrolment equipment costs are keeping families from the game. Active, non-hockey families are choosing other sports to play over hockey.
Messier says the early wake up calls, the extensive travel time and over-competitiveness are factors that have also detracted parents from enrolling their kids in hockey.
These six-week sessions will meet for one hour once a week, which keeps the commitment to a minimum and allows for participation in other activities.
“Along with the change in family lifestyles, the game of hockey has also changed,” Mark Messier said in a press release.
“Kids need the opportunity to experience a variety of sports growing up, and it is our responsibility to offer our game in a way that is affordable….”
According to a recent Scotiabank Community Hockey Poll, one-third of hockey parents feel that organized minor hockey isn’t affordable. On average, families surveyed said they expected to spend $849 per season. One of the biggest expenses for parents is out-of-town tournaments, which cost around $468, not including food, accommodations and transportation.
What’s more, 40% of the parents surveyed believe their children’s hockey expenses are high and have to cut back spending in other areas to make it work.
“We want to eliminate the financial barriers preventing access to the sport,” says Mary-Kay Messier.
For enrollment information, visit The First Shift.