APRIL 7th: The International Powerchair Hockey Day

A day to celebrate our passion for Powerchair Hockey!

It was March 2021 when Paul Desaulniers from Canada sent an email to the Sport Executive Committee of the International Powerchair Hockey Committee simply asking: why don’t we designate a day to celebrate and show the world how beautiful, strong, powerful, dynamic Powerchair Hockey and all the people who practice or follow it are?

Paul described himself as “Sport Fan, Food lover and Life enthusiasts”. In his blog he talked about himself and his passion for Powerchair Sports which led him to work towards giving structure to the Toronto Powerhockey league first and then, after having witnessed from home the debut of his Team Canada at the 2018 World Cup, also internationally.

Paul was deeply in love not so much and not only with Powerchair Hockey but with sport and its power to bring people together despite distances, different points of view, languages, ways of understanding and understanding each other, of moving or living and interpreting victories and defeats. For him it was every time a gift and a surprise to share and find shared his boundless passion for this sport.

I was among the people who had this gift and the pleasure of being able to spend hours of meetings and exchanging large quantities of emails and messages at the most unthinkable hours considering the time zone with him.

Paul was a visionary, he was someone with a thousand ideas, among other things all very clear and structured. The March email was followed by others, in which he gradually tried to bring out the facets of that intuition that on April 7th will turn into reality for the first time: creating a day to tell, celebrate and make Powerchair Hockey known to everyone!

In fact, kicking off International Powerchair Hockey Day is a great way for PCH organizations and teams from all around the world and at all levels to come together to raise awareness of the sporting opportunities available to people with even very severe progressive neuromuscular disabilities. The basic idea is to involve players, coaches, insiders, fans, etc. etc. from all over the world inviting them to share their stories, memories, and anecdotes thus filling the feeds of the major social networks with a wave of #ipchday branded content.

Why April 7? Absolutely legitimate question. It was always Paul who found the right inspiration; One evening sifting through the archives of the international commission we discovered that the first-ever meeting between representatives of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, and the Netherlands took place on the weekend of 6-7 April 2002 in Spanbroek, the Netherlands. That was the first time they put on paper the will to found an international committee that would organize and coordinate electronic wheelchair hockey events and competitions.

Everything seemed ready, we wanted to make it official and start celebrating this day for some time, but suddenly in December 2021 one morning I received a message from Randy, Paul’s father informing me that in the face of an unexpected complication of surgery Paul had left us. For some time thinking about this initiative hurt me, and I, like the other members of the International Sport Congress, had put it aside a bit to be able to concentrate on the great challenge of creating a 10-team world championship for the first time ever.

And it was in Nottwil that Bev, Paul’s mom, had a small package delivered to me through some Team Canada teammates. Among other things, it contained Paul’s Bucket list – the list of things Paul still wanted to do, and a small pendant engraved with the profile of Paul’s face.

If ever one of the things in the list was realized I could mark my “tic” / done leaving a trace of Paul’s passage as well. A pendant remained in Nottwil as a reminder that the dream of participating in and starting a well-structured Canadian Powerchair Hockey movement was finally one of his dreams come true. First checkbox is marked.

While looking at the teams lined up at the end of the World Cup, I couldn’t help but think for a moment of the smile Paul would have had, and I couldn’t help but think of him saying to me “You see Anna, our sport is a great party, we absolutely have to celebrate it and party all together!”

A few days later once back home from Switzerland, while reviewing some photos from the world championship, I found one that depicted that very moment. All the participants in the world championship were in the field immortalized by a small drone from up above … I shared that photo on my social media with a quote taken from a song from a movie ” A million dreams is all it’s gonna take. A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make!”

And I suddenly rediscovered myself as a visionary too, like Paul, with all the desire to celebrate our sport on April 7th, because in short, Powerchair Hockey really deserves it!

Article by Anna Rossi – for Dm205D – Italian Muscular Dystrophy Organization Magazine