B.C. hockey coach brings Canada's national pastime to Mongolia

Mongolia isn't exactly a hockey hotbed.

The landlocked country sandwiched between China and Russia is home to only 13 rinks – all of them outdoors – and just 653 registered hockey players.

See Full Article

But for hockey coach Nathan Leslie, making a more than 8,000-kilometre journey to share his country's national pastime was part of satisfying a life's ambition.

"This is exactly fulfilling a dream I had of connecting with coaches and hockey enthusiast around the world," he told CTV Vancouver.

Leslie coaches hockey at the Britannia Hockey Academy in Vancouver. He previously played Junior-A hockey in his youth, and had a few stints in Switzerland's National League before he retired and became a coach.

Earlier this year, Leslie decided to venture to Mongolia with his brother and a small film crew, to spread his love of the game.

Mongolia couldn't afford to bring over Leslie and his crew, so the Canadians took it upon themselves to raise the $22,000 necessary to make the trip.

After securing the funds, the group finally made it to the Asian country in February, bringing with them 10 bags full of hockey gear, including over 50 pairs of skates.

Starting in the capital of Ulaanbaatar, the group visited seven of the country's rinks, making their way north, to just 80 kilometres from the Russian border.

Despite the frigid temperatures, Leslie and his crew received a warm welcome.

Leslie said the nomadic Mongolian people would sometimes arrive on horseback to watch practices and bring them lunch.

"We had a group one day wait five hours in -25C to -29C weather, hoping that we would show up and get on the ice," he said.

Leslie said he was impressed by his pupils' determination to learn the sport.

"They're tough. They're resilient. They're as passionate as we are," he said.

Thanks to the success of the trip, Leslie has plansto spread his love for the game in other countries where hockey is on the margins of the collective consciousness. Next on the docket are China and New Zealand– two countries that have just over 2,500 registered hockey players combined.

"Hockey is the vehicle that has been able to take us around the world, and (I) just cherish that and enjoy it," he said.

With files from CTV Vancouver



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Hundreds at Harvard, NYC, Chicago protest China's actions

    World News CTV News
    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday at Harvard University and near Chinese consulates in New York and Chicago to support protesters who have called for that country's leader to step down amid severe antivirus restrictions in the biggest demonstrations against the government in Beijing in decades. Source
  • Chinese spaceship with 3 aboard docks with space station

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - Three Chinese astronauts docked early Wednesday with their country's space station, where they will overlap for several days with the three-member crew already onboard and expand the facility to its maximum size. Docking with the Tiangong station came at 5:42 a.m. Source
  • Colorado governor visits gay club shooting memorial

    World News CTV News
    News - Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday visited the memorial outside a gay club where five people were killed last week, solemnly walking along a line of flowers, crosses and signs bearing the photos and names of the victims outside the building with the club's owners. Source
  • Former premier Jason Kenney resigns from Alberta legislature

    Canada News CTV News
    Thousands asked for it while he was leader and now Jason Kenney has done it, announcing his resignation as a member of the Alberta legislature on social media on Tuesday. The former Alberta premier and United Conservative Party leader made his statement on Twitter, thanking constituents for supporting him during his 25 years in politics. Source
  • Records: Bullet found near 2 teens' bodies came from suspect

    World News CTV News
    INDIANAPOLIS - An unspent bullet found between the bodies of two teenage girls slain in 2017 "had been cycled through" a pistol owned by the suspect in their deaths, according to court documents an Indiana judge ordered released Tuesday. Source
  • Landmark same-sex marriage bill wins Senate passage

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - The Senate passed bipartisan legislation Tuesday to protect same-sex marriages, an extraordinary sign of shifting national politics on the issue and a measure of relief for the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples who have married since the Supreme Court's 2015 decision that legalized gay marriage countrywide. Source
  • Biden, Macron ready to talk Ukraine, trade in state visit

    World News CTV News
    French President Emmanuel Macron is headed to Washington for the first state visit of Joe Biden's presidency – a revival of diplomatic pageantry that had been put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden-Macron relationship had a choppy start. Source
  • Hawaii volcano eruption has some on alert, draws onlookers

    World News CTV News
    HILO, Hawaii - The first eruption in 38 years of the world's largest active volcano is attracting onlookers to a national park for "spectacular" views of the event, and it's also dredging up bad memories among some Hawaii residents who have been through harrowing volcanic experiences in the past. Source
  • Canadian military plane intercepted by Chinese jets 'numerous' times in recent weeks

    Canada News CTV News
    Chinese military jets conducted several intercepts of a Royal Canadian Air Force patrol plane as it flew surveillance sorties from Japan as part of an international effort to enforce sanctions against North Korea, the Department of National Defence confirmed Tuesday. Source
  • Report: Many female Israeli conscripts suffer sexual abuse

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM - Roughly one in four women performing compulsory national service in Israel's police force and prison service have suffered sexual abuse on the job, according to a report by Israel's official government watchdog agency. Source