The Hockey Tournament

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Hockey has become a normal part of life in the Wilson household. We are at practices or games four times a week and I have become incredibly fast at putting equipment on Muppets and tying skates. This past weekend the middle Muppets team hosted a tournament for children under 9. Teams from Saudi, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai came to Doha to compete. This is the second tournament that we have been apart of since joining hockey our first one was with the oldest Muppet in Dubai and since our teams got completely slaughtered in the last one I didn’t really have high expectations for the middle guys team.

We arrived at the rink and we were given our “special passes” to enter the dressing room area. The middle guy was pretty pumped that he was the only one out of his brothers that had one of these passes. The other two Muppets had to sit in the stands while the players got dressed. The teams first game went well and even though we lost 4-0 the kids played hard and had fun. Their next game was in a few hours and I took the kids home for a rest and a snack. I think all of us parents pumped their kids full of sugar because the second game they were on fire and won the game. It was so great to see the middle Muppet smiling from ear to ear as he skated off the ice with his team.

The next morning we had a game bright and early, the game was awesome and at one point our team was winning 5-0. The team they were playing managed to come back and tie the game and in the end we didn’t know if we would be playing for Gold or Bronze. We waiting patiently while the other teams played and by noon we found out the middle Muppets team would be playing in the gold medal game! The locker room was vibrating with excitement before the final game. The middle Muppet smiled at me as I tied up his skates “You know what Mum?” he whispered “Even if we loose this game we still get second place, and we get a medal… all of us get one!” his little eyes sparkled with excitement and he grabbed his stick and made his way on to the ice with his team.

The last game was a nail biter, we scored the first goal and shortly after they scored. For the longest time it was a tied game with so many shots on both teams goals I was feeling the stress for both goalies. Near the end of the game the other team scored 3 goals and we lost 4-1 but man did those kids play hard. The whole rink cheered as medals were handed out to both teams and team pictures were taken. There were no disappointed faces on any of the players, they wore their medals with pride and all chatted happily about the game as they got undressed. When cheers for the coaches were given and goodbyes were said we found the other two Muppets and went for celebratory ice cream.

The four of us sat in the food court a family whos son played on the other team came and sat at the table beside us. The little boy and the middle Muppet acknowledged each other with a slight nod. The middle Muppet smiled at him “Good game” he said “I think the best part is the ice cream afterwards” The other boy laughed and agreed “You guys were really good” he said as he shook the middle guys hand. We sat and chatted with the family for a few more minutes and wished them safe travels. As we made our way to the car the middle guy gave me a big hug and said “Thanks for giving up your weekend to bring me to the hockey tournament, I know that it is a lot of work for you and I am so happy that I got to play” I squeezed him back my heart swelling with pride, it had been a crazy busy weekend and we had to start the week with not much of a break but it was worth it to see him enjoy himself and appreciate being there.

This will not be the last hockey tournament for the middle guy but I am so glad that his first experience was such a good one, even if the best part was the ice cream!

Hockey Week In Doha

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When we travel home to Canada in the summer time we have a long list of things to bring back to Doha. This usually includes, cold medication, certain spices we can’t get here, books, Lego and many other things that are either hard to find here or are just better from Canada. One of the main things on our list this year was hockey equipment for the Middle and Youngest Muppet. After watching the oldest Muppet play all last year they were both eager to join in the fun. I had set the date in the calendar to register for the new hockey season thinking that with jet lag and starting work and school I was sure to forget. By the end of August the three boys were registered and ready to hit the ice. The oldest was placed on a new team this year and the other two would have to have a skating assessment to see where they would be placed.

When we arrived at the rink for the skating assessment the two younger Muppets were excited and ready to get on the ice. I was a little nervous since the two of them hadn’t been on skates for a few months and they were both a bit wobbly. The two of them shuffled around the rink slow and steady while the other kids did laps around them and the oldest Muppet was out there to encourage them to keep going. At the end of the assessment both Muppets were exhausted and ready for a break. They had done really well for not skating for so long but the coaches agreed that they would both need a bit more practice before they would be able to place them on a team. They suggested a few weeks of the learn to skate classes and then we could reassess them when we felt they were ready. I agreed that it was probably a good idea but I had two very disappointed Muppets on my hands.

I told the middle and youngest boy that we just needed to practice more so that they could keep up with the other children. The following day after school with skates, helmets and gloves in tow we went straight to the mall. Public skating was scheduled for 90 minutes and I wanted to find out more about the learn to skate program. Once I got the three boys on the ice I asked about signing the two younger guys up for a few weeks of lessons. The woman at the front desk informed me that they had been full since the beginning of August and that she would call me if they had a space open up. I knew that this was a phone call that I would never receive so I looked at the public skating schedule for the week and figured I would just have to bring them myself so they could just practice. For two weeks we went to the rink every day that we could after school, the Muppets were starting to get the hang of skating a little faster and both of them had more confidence on the ice.

The following week we went to continue our “skating lessons” only to find that they had changed the public skate timing and now had figure skating and the learn to skate program in it’s place. The only time the public skate was on was in the morning and early afternoon and then at 10:00pm, none of these times were going to work for us. Frustrated I begged the coordinator of the learn to skate program to take two more kids, I assured her that they would only need to be in the classes for a few weeks before they were strong enough to join hockey. I was told that it was impossible, I hopelessly pleaded with the learn to skate people to let me teach my own kids and that I would pay them to use the ice. To say I was desperate was an understatement.

We took the oldest to hockey later that week and I expressed my desperation to a few of the parents there. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to manage taking the Muppets to the rink across town a few times a week and maintain my sanity. Thankfully the Eid break was coming up and this meant that there would be public skating all day for at least a week. I vowed to take the kids as much as we could over the break and decided that after the holiday we  would ask for both of them to be reassessed and hopefully end my teaching children to skate madness.

The week we returned to school I ran in to one of the coaches at pick up time. He told me to bring the middle Muppet to skate with the team that Wednesday and he would see where he was at. Later that night we received an email inviting the youngest Muppet to join the Gecko team of Under 6 year olds. Since his birthday was before December 31st he was able to join that age group and I graciously accepted the spot.

Wednesday arrived quickly and after school we made our way to what was quickly becoming our third home. Once everyone was fed and homework completed I suggested to the middle Muppet that we should get his hockey gear on so that he was ready to go once the practice started. As I pulled on his jersey I noticed he looked a little nervous, I asked him if he was excited about skating in all of his hockey gear or if he was feeling a bit worried. “I am a bit nervous Mummy” he admitted with a shy smile “I am scared I will not be good enough and then I won’t get to play hockey”  at that point my heart broke for the middle muppet the last thing I wanted was for him to be disappointed again. I asked him if he thought his skating had improved over the past few weeks and he told me that he was proud of himself and that every time he went on the ice he got better and more confidant. I told him that it was alright to feel a bit scared but that if he went out tired his best and showed the coaches how hard he had worked that I was sure they would find a place on the team for him. I gave the middle Muppet a big hug and he cautiously made his way on to the ice.

At the end of the practice the middle Muppet skated off the ice with a huge smile on his face, “Mummy, I had so much fun!” he said “Hockey is great and I really want to do this again next week!” The coaches agreed that his skating had improved enough for him to join the team so now all three Wilson boys are in hockey. We travel to the rink two nights a week and we are there two days on the weekends, the security guards recognize me from a mile away and the lady at Mc Donalds knows our Saturday morning breakfast order before I say it. The Muppets absolutely love playing hockey so it makes all the running around worth it.

This year I am a mom of three hockey boys, three times the equipment, three times the practices and three times the games. I was never one that wanted to push my boys in to this sport but seeing how much fun they are having and the skills they are learning makes me glad that hockey chose them at the moment and I am sure that the Muppets will turn this princess in to a hockey Mom sooner or later.