4 Fort McMurray kids representing Canada in Volt World Cup

·3 min read
Stephen Liu, in the foreground, is one of 4 kids from Fort McMurray representing Canada at the Volt World Cup.  (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC - image credit)
Stephen Liu, in the foreground, is one of 4 kids from Fort McMurray representing Canada at the Volt World Cup. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC - image credit)

Four kids from Fort McMurray are heading to Sweden next month to be the first representatives for Alberta's Volt team at the World Cup.

Volt is an adapted version of hockey that can be played on any flat, dry and smooth surface. Players ride in low, go-kart-style electric vehicles that they control with a joystick. The vehicles have a hockey blade at the end that players use to hit a small, hard ball into a low, wide net.

Joshua Fitzpatrick, 12, said when he found out he would be playing on that national team, his "heart dropped."

Fitzpatrick is hoping to bring back a trophy from the tournament.

Barbara Fitzpatrick, Joshua's mom, said she couldn't believe it when she found out her son would be participating in a world cup and traveling to Europe.

"He thinks he's so… famous," said Barbara. "He loves it all. Loves all the attention."

Joshua started playing Volt over the last year.

"I knew as soon as he sat in the chair he was hooked, because he loves driving anything that moves. But I never dreamed that it was something this big," said Barbara.

"The thought of going to Sweden … we never thought that was going to happen at all," she said. "It's pretty amazing."

The families pay for the flights to Sweden, but the food and housing is covered.

Variety Alberta, a children's charity, brought the sport to Alberta almost a year ago, and to Fort McMurray in January.

Jamie Malbeuf/CBC
Jamie Malbeuf/CBC

Jacey Gamroth, coach for the Alberta national Volt team, said because the teammates are across Alberta, it's been difficult to coordinate practices.

Four of the players are in Fort McMurray, two are in Edmonton and one is in Calgary.

The team was only able to get together to practice once.

"At the start of the weekend, I had some concerns. We weren't meshing as a team very well and then by the end of the weekend it was great. We were playing so well together and the kids were just really getting along," said Gamroth.

Despite having a lower population than Edmonton and Calgary, most of the players are from Fort McMurray.

"Our Fort McMurray parents are incredibly involved and so eager and so excited," said Gamroth.

She added there are limited adaptive sports in Fort McMurray so when the opportunities come up, people are ready and waiting.

This is the first time Canada is participating in a World Cup for Volt, said Gamroth. Teams from Canada, the United States, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany will participate.

Canada is sending two teams to the World Cup, one from Alberta and one from Ontario.

Jamie Malbeuf/CBC
Jamie Malbeuf/CBC

Xiaoyan Chen, mother of 10-year-old Stephen Liu, said this has been a great opportunity for him to join a sports team and that she's proud of her son.

"[I] really appreciate the opportunity," said Chen. She added that with the technology, Stephen can play a sport that he normally wouldn't have access to.

"I was very happy," said Liu. "I love it. It's very fun."

This will be Liu's first time traveling to Europe, and his family plans on taking him to Paris around the time of the tournament.

Olivia Norman, 11, has been playing Volt since January, and said it was cool finding out she would be going to Sweden. She's hoping to win, have fun and maybe make some new friends overseas.

The Volt World Cup will be held from Sept. 16-18 in Gävle, Sweden.