Teens teach Syrian refugees how to play floor hockey

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Teens teach Syrian refugees how to play floor hockey

Members of the Cole Harbour White Midget X team spent Saturday night in the gym at Armbrae Academy in Halifax teaching Syrian refugees how to play floor hockey.

One of the newcomers was Alaa Alhraki, 25, who moved to Canada six months ago. He said he appreciated learning the game.

"I like hockey now," Alhraki said. "The community, the communication, anything here with community, that's good hockey."

Ryan MacKenzie, the team's assistant coach, was impressed with the enthusiasm the Syrians displayed.

"Their attitudes are great. Everything is 'Thank you, thank you, thank you,'" he said.

The floor hockey lessons are the latest effort the hockey team, formerly known as the Auburn High Eagles, has made to give back to the community.

There were about 10 newcomers taking part in the game. The youngest player was five and the oldest were in their 20s.

On the sidelines, Nathan Decker spent time teaching two-year-old Mohammed Ealtayar how to stickhandle. At first, the toddler kept picking up the ball with his hand, but as the night went on, he started to get the hang of it.

MacKenzie said Sylvia Gawad, owner of Piece of the East, helped arrange the game of shinny.

He said that while the game was planned as a one-off, it could happen again.

The lessons, MacKenzie said, were a great way for the team to learn more about the Syrians.

"With all the news and all the things you hear on social media, it's hard to form your own opinion," said MacKenzie. 

"To get to know [them] right from the personal level, these guys are all in it for the fun. I know personally I'm proud to see these guys on the team give back."