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Why Hockey Guys are helping fight Climate Change

Sometimes the effects of global warming can seem far away or unrelated to your personal life. However, this couldn’t be further than the truth! It is highly likely that wherever you live, you have already been affected by climate change – perhaps without even realizing it.

That unseasonably warm winter you’ve been enjoying? The frequent forest and bush fires? The prehistoric animals being discovered in the melting permafrost? These occurrences aren’t coincidences. They are a result of our changing climate.

Climate change is no longer a distant threat, and people are starting to take notice.

Saving Pond Hockey

Svante, a father of two who lives in Helsinki, Finland, is one of those people who have begun to see the impact that climate change has on his family’s everyday life. In his case, increasing temperatures have started to impact his ability to play ice hockey.

Ice hockey is the number one sport in Finland, and a beloved pastime for Svante and his Canadian friend, Steve Baynes. Svante grew up near a pond and learned to skate and play ice hockey at a young age. Steve grew up playing hockey indoors but grew to appreciate the freeing feeling of being immersed in nature when he joined Svante’s outdoor team in Finland, where he lives.

Unfortunately, over the eight years of playing together, they realized that the hockey season was changing. The winters in Finland are getting warmer and shorter. Even in December, playing ice hockey is now impossible, as the ponds and artificial rinks aren’t able to freeze. As climate change progresses, they risk losing the tradition of outdoor ice hockey.

Svante and Steve and a few other friends didn’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch as their favourite sport became lost to the changing climate, so they took action!

Raising awareness

Svante and Steve chose to raise awareness about climate change by playing ice hockey. The pair founded a non-government organization called "Save Pond Hockey” which organizes tournaments around the world (so far in Finland, Canada and Germany) in order to raise awareness of climate change and encourage action.

Because people often have a difficult time connecting with climate change and understanding the impacts that are happening right now, it is important to use language that people will understand and connect climate change to the things that people love. That is where hockey comes into play! By using hockey as a medium, people are better able to understand that climate change isn’t only happening to someone else on the other side of the world – it is happening here and now.

Let Svante and Steve be a reminder that you don’t have to be highly educated about environmental issues or have a science degree in order to make a difference. Steve is a self-proclaimed “stupid hockey guy” who was determined to make a difference and as a result, he has! Others have been so heartened by the initiative that a documentary film was made about their efforts, called Saving Pond Hockey.

Save Pond Hockey Tournaments

Each winter multiple tournaments are organized, with support from professional players, recreational players, and everyone in between! So far over 2,700 players have come out to play in the Save Pond Hockey Tournaments including professional hockey players, Stanley Cup champions, Olympic medalists, celebrities, and even the President of Finland!

To date, these tournaments have raised over 56,000€ supporting Action on Climate Change, with major sponsorships from companies, as well as individuals who support the initiative. And the fun part is that it is all wrapped in local hockey tournaments that support awareness and positive action!

Skating Outdoors is pure bliss!

Although I am not a hockey player, I still feel an appreciation of the game that defines so many. And on the cold winter nights when we are walking our dog in the neighbourhood, my husband and I find ourselves enjoying the sounds of people of all ages getting together for a bit of hockey at our local outdoor rink. It just feels great to see people outside, enjoying a sport in nature, even in the depths of winter.

I have to say, there is nothing that feels more like winter to me than hearing the sound of skate blades on ice. I have a very strong love of skating on my local rivers and lakes. It is one of the happiest activities for me each winter, and I get out to skate as often as possible. But even as I do so, I am keenly aware of the warming winters here in my part of the world and what that means, not just to recreation activities, but also to ecosystems and economies.

So, how can you get involved?

You can help to support the work and get in on the fun in a variety of ways!

Participate in a Tournament

These tournaments are for anyone who enjoys playing ice hockey and wants to help preserve it for the next generation. Your team doesn’t have to be amazing (or even good!) to join. After registering, you are able to fill in your team’s details including your skill level. This ensures that teams of similar skill levels will play together.

For details on upcoming tournaments, head over to the Save Pond Hockey website.

All proceeds are donated directly to campaigns against climate change. For example, proceeds from previous tournaments have been donated to:

  • Hiilivapaa Suomi for their campaigns against fossil fuel power plants in Finland
  • Suomen luonnonsuojeluliitto for two new campaigns: 1) create a Climate Change Ambassador to educate school children about climate change, and 2) organize a seminar to discuss the local bio-economy and its impacts on climate change.
  • Etelä-Savon piiri to continue their work against climate change in the Mikkeli region.

Become a Supporting Member or Corporate Partner

As an individual, class, team, family etc. you can support Save Pond Hockey's efforts with a small annual donation. Not only do you get to feel great about taking action on Climate Change, but you also get all the earliest details about tournaments, the Ambassadors and celebrities lined up and you even get a discount on merchandise.

Corporate partners can become affiliated with the initiative through sponsorship and, of course, can even participate in the tournaments for some added fun!

We all can take action on Climate Change

Even if you don't play hockey there are still more ways that you can help to support worthwhile organizations such as these. You can add your support by purchasing their eco-friendly products like toques, (also known as beanies) and patches.

And, everyone can help to spread the word about Save Pond Hockey events by following them on social media and sharing their message.

In hockey, one player can’t accomplish much on their own, but a whole team working together makes a huge difference and together we can achieve a lot. This approach can also be applied to climate change, as we have the ability to make significant changes when we work together!

Be inspired by these “hockey guys” and consider the ways that you can also get the message out about making a positive difference in your corner of the world. Head over here for more inspiring stories of Action for Change.

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