North York Mirror
Ken Pereira has competed in both the Summer Olympics and the Pan Am Games as well as the 2010 Commonwealth Games where he was the flagbearer representing Canada.
Playing for the Canadian men's field hockey national team, Pereira's travelled all over the world including countries in Europe and Asia where the sport is much more popular.
But he knows it's different back home in Canada.
"It's a lot of fun but we don't get a lot of exposure," said Pereira, 38, who dropped in recently at St. Edward Catholic School near Bathurst Street and Sheppard Avenue to speak with the elementary students.
He knows ice hockey is the dominant sport in Canada with many of the kids in attendance easily able to name their hockey heroes.
"It's what they see on TV. Just like the kids here, I was playing ice hockey," said Pereira, who was introduced to field hockey by his uncle and cousin from Uganda when he was 16.
But he hoped by introducing field hockey to students at a younger age, they would at least know and learn about the sport he's been playing for 18 years now.
"When they see something new, they're really enthusiastic," said Pereira, who has played on a club team in Holland for the past five years. "Just to see something different is exciting."
Principal Anthony Deciantis welcomed guests like Pereira to speak to the students to not only promote sports, but to boost their self-esteem.
"They need positive role models," Deciantis said.
With Canada currently ranked 12th in the world, Pereira hoped the national team would continue to move up and its success would translate to more young Canadian athletes getting into the sport.
In the meantime, Pereira is getting ready for a six-nation tournament in Dehli, India in February where the winning team qualifies for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England.
"A third Olympics would be nice," said Pereira, adding being able to play in his 40s for the 2015 Pan Am Games to be held in Toronto would also be something special. "We'll see how it goes."