All Native Cup draws a crowd
One of B.C.’s largest hockey tournaments will hit the ice again in Vernon.
The seventh annual Nk’maplqs All Native Hockey Challenge Cup will bring more than 25 teams and 450 players to Wesbild Centre, Civic Arena, Priest Valley Arena and Okanagan Training Rink April 6 to 8.
“It’s a huge tournament and we hope to keep expanding every year,” said Sherry Louis, one of the organizers, adding that players come from B.C. and Alberta.
When family members, coaches and fans are included, the tournament could draw close to 1,000 people, providing an economic boost for the area.
It’s anticipated that many motel and hotel rooms will be full while players and relatives also visit local restaurants and shops.
“We’re working with the hotels to get them on board,” said Louis, adding that the event also helps solidify the community’s national reputation for hockey.
“Vernon has been a big supporter of hockey and sports in general.”
Presently, organizers are pursuing corporate sponsors to cover event costs, including ice rental.
“We’re trying to reach out to the community more through businesses,” said Louis.
Louis is confident sponsors will be supportive once they understand the benefit the tournament provides to the community.
Anyone interested in sponsorship information can contact Richard Louis at 250-540-0721 or Jennifer Louis at 250-540-7436.
Nk’maplqs means Head of the Lake in the Okanagan language and the tournament was founded by Jay D. Louis as a way of reviving the game of hockey and bringing together First Nations people.
He died in 2006 but the Okanagan Dreammakers and the organizing committee has been dedicated to continuing his legacy.
The tournament consists of recreation, competitive and masters hockey, and if there is sufficient interest, there will also be a women’s three-on-three recreation division.
Many of the teams and players come back year after year because they enjoy the camaraderie and non-competitive environment.
“A lot of the comments back are really positive,” said Sherry Louis.