Hyundai launched Hyundai Hockey Helpers in 2012. The program provides grants to help with registration fees and equipment costs for kids from under-resourced families get in the game. The program partners with a not-for-profit organization, KidSport, to select and distribute the grants.
For its third year in a row, Hyundai Hockey Helpers has teamed up Montreal Canadiens Defenceman P.K. Subban and his family. The Subban family holds the cause close to their hearts and are giving back to the next generation of hockey players by helping kids get in the game. To date, Hyundai Hockey Helpers has helped nearly 5,000 kids play hockey. This year, Hyundai Hockey Helpers will help at least 2,000 more kids get in the game. While in Toronto on July 29th, P.K. took the time share his thoughts on the program and the positive impact of hockey with the Hyundai Drive Squad:
What age did you start playing hockey?
P.K.: Most kids start playing hockey at the age of five, I was an earlier bloomer. My parents laced up my first pair of skates and put me on the ice at the young age of 2 ½, basically right after I mastered walking. I instantly connected with the sport and I have fond memories of growing up on my skating rink that my dad made for us in our backyard.
Where does your passion for hockey come from?
P.K.: A huge part of my passion for the sport comes from being Canadian and growing up watching Hockey Night in Canada on CBC with my parents and siblings.
What were the biggest challenges you faced playing hockey growing up?
P.K.: The biggest challenge was the cost to play the sport, and this is a challenge that my parents faced. They relied on the community and friends and family for support, and I learned to play hockey using second hand equipment. I wish Hyundai Hockey Helpers had been around to help out my parents.
How has the game of hockey impacted your life?
P.K.: Hockey is an amazing sport and it has definitely had a positive impact on my life. But my dad always said school comes first, and if I didn’t do well in school I didn’t get to play hockey. Growing up, it was tough to balance, but looking back I appreciate my parents’ efforts to make sure I was well-rounded.
What life lessons has hockey taught you?
P.K.: Hockey taught me to challenge myself and be the best I can be on and off the ice. Playing the sport has taught me about teamwork and how to be a good team player, social skills and most importantly, dedication. My dad has always said to me, “where there is a will there is a way” and this is the type of dedication hockey has taught me. Being dedicated to this sport has been my will to play.
Who is your biggest role model?
P.K.: Magic Johnson is my biggest role model and I am his biggest fan. I actually met him recently and ran up to him and said, “man, I am your biggest fan, I’m P.K. Subban,” and he said “I know who you are,” and I was like, “what!” I was blown away just standing there talking to him and he was so nice.
Johnson is seriously remarkable, in terms of what he has accomplished in his profession and outside of his profession as well.
What is the one message you would pass on to young kids who have a dream to play hockey?
P.K.: Have fun, work hard and follow your dreams.
For more information on the program, visit HyundaiHockey.ca