During the last couple of years, people in the Cree Nation have been working hard to establish a higher level of hockey for our youth. Their aim was to establish a position supported by the Cree Regional Authority and the nine communities.

On Feb. 12, I was hired as the technical director of hockey by the CRA. Our aim is to set priorities through the help of each band to establish an atmosphere of trust and development, through sports and education. Our youth have to learn to progress in their skills but at the same time understand that certain demands will be asked of them.

Our coaches must initiate the change in the major areas in which our game has stood still. These areas are in the basic skills, the physical preparation of players: strength, endurance, speed, power and mobility. Associated with this are skill development and team or cooperative coaching.

It is one thing to recognize the need for change. It is another to implement it quickly, especially when we have already spent years in a certain way of doing things. Our goal is to begin slowly and grow with time through commitment and hard work.

A word we must bring forward is “PRIDE.” There are many definitions of “pride” and one of the good ones is “a strong self-image.” The ingredients of such an image are self-confidence, determination, mental and emotional toughness, drive, aggressiveness, trust, responsibility, leadership and conscience. To be competitive, we must: have a commitment to excellence, use and coordinate all our resources properly, give our coaches access to all the knowledge and facilities available and make sure our coaches are motivated.

The current trend in hockey is to base conditioning programs on accurate testing and measurement of each individual. This enables the coach and player to measure the effectiveness of the training program and measure weaknesses of the players.

For testing to be effective, it must be given serious attention. It is not a gimmick. It must be conducted regularly and efficiently as an integral part of training and be treated as a valuable tool.

When we receive our data, our next step is to establish “Rep or Elite teams.” These teams will have special training and support while they work on their education. The players will have to commit his aims toward education and hockey. This effort is required from all and at the same time, we’ll give the guiding support to the players.
During the next few months, I’ll be travelling to the different bands. During my visits, I’ll test all the hockey players off-ice and on-ice from atoms to midgets through the minor hockey. I’ll explain our priorities of the Development Program for the short and long-term. I’ll be present at the CNIT Minor Hockey Tournament in Val d’Or from March 14 to 17.

Remember this statement from Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is SUCCESS.”