Community Clubs Field Hockey

Investing in field hockey club’s Indigenous inclusion program ‘made a lot of sense’ to local business Decisive Group

By Sam Loveys

It was the kind of scene Mitchell Carkner had been imagining. Most days, the CEO of Decisive Group Inc. is focused on the Information Technology business, but on a recent Saturday morning, he found himself at the Nepean Sportsplex with his family, surrounded by field hockey players, including several who were there thanks to his company’s support.

Decisive Group Inc. CEO Mitchell Carkner (left) with Nepean Nighthawks Field Hockey Club founder Sandeep Chopra. Photo: Sam Loveys

The Nepean Nighthawks Field Hockey Club recognized Decisive for its $16,000 contribution to kickstart the Stick Together initiative, which provides free programming, transportation and equipment for local Indigenous youth.

In addressing participants and spectators at the first of the Nighthawks’ two annual spring tournaments, Carkner underlined the the importance of local businesses supporting local sport.

“One of our employees’ family has run (field hockey programs) for over 25 years, and this year they were looking for a sponsor,” recounted Carkner. “We’d been looking at investing into the community, specifically Indigenous youth, so this made a lot of sense.”

Launched earlier this year for the club’s indoor season, the Stick Together program welcomed roughly 20 participants this spring in the Nighthawks’ under-10, U12 and U14 teams.

“They’re really benefiting from the program, which is nice to see,” signalled Nighthawks communications manager Bailey O’Brien. “It’s grown our club and increased diversity among the teams, which has helped a lot.”

The 13th edition of the Nepean Junior Fest featured U10 and U12 coed and U14 girls’ teams playing a minimum of five 7-on-7 matches on June 16-17.

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The Nepean Summer Sizzler followed the next weekend, welcoming age 13-17 boys’, U16 and U19 girls’ and women’s teams for 11-a-side games on June 24-25.

Action at the 2023 Nepean Junior Fest field hockey tournament. Photo: Sam Loveys

The Nighthawks’ tournaments take place over two weekends since all matches are played on the city’s lone suitable field hockey surface at Nepean Sportsplex. The club’s leaders would like to change that in the coming years with the construction of its Field Hockey Centre facility, which would expand capacity for youth tournaments and also be capable of hosting international-level events.

“It would be the big central field hockey (facility) in Ontario,” explained Deven Nandkani, a volunteer helping with fundraising for the Centre. “The new Field Hockey Centre is bringing together all field hockey enthusiasts from around the area, as a central hub for everyone in that community.”

The Nighthawks’ total participation grew by about 20% this year, showcasing the interest and growth in the sport locally, Nandkani highlighted.

“We’re currently raising donations to start the process before the construction,” added Nandkani. “Our goal is to raise 2 million dollars, which we’re hoping to have by September. Then the city will match that amount and construction of the facility will begin.”

Field Hockey Centre plans call for a pair of top-notch field hockey pitches, spectator bleachers, parking, change rooms, and a clubhouse. It’s another attractive opportunity for local businesses to get involved in their community, Carkner noted.

“We’re definitely looking at sponsoring (the facility),” he said. “We’ve been talking about that with the group and it’s something we’re considering.”

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