After nearly three years on hiatus, Brampton's Khalsa Cup has returned to give back to the community.
The charity ball hockey tournament, which began seven years ago, invites players from across the Greater Toronto Area to arenas in Brampton. Since its inception, it's raised thousands of dollars for various charities.
This year, all proceeds will go to Khalsa Aid Canada, the Canadian chapter of the international non-profit humanitarian organization.
"The point here is bringing the community together through sports," said Jaskaran Sandhu, one of the tournament organizers.
18 teams, 400 players
And it's incredibly popular. The Khalsa Cup brings together 18 teams and more than 400 players over a four-day tournament held at Century Gardens Recreation Centre. The final match of the tournament will be held on Sunday.
Sandhu and fellow tournament organizer Jaspaul Singh say the event celebrates the community's passion for hockey while promoting the Sikh principles of seva — selfless service to the community. As Brampton is home to thousands of Punjabi Sikhs who love hockey, it's a perfect combination, they say.
"Seva is a very important aspect of giving back to the community and getting together," Singh said. "Now all our players are back, the teams are back, everyone's excited, there's a lot of passion, and we're supporting a charity. This is what it's about."
J.C. Gill, who plays for Jatt HC, said coming back after the pandemic means a lot to him and his team. He hopes his team will win this year's tournament, but more importantly he sees the Khalsa Cup as a vehicle to promote hockey in the community while giving back.
"This brings a lot of equity and inclusion to the sport of hockey," he said. "It brings the community together from all over the GTA."
Gurpratap Singh Toor, a volunteer for Khalsa Aid Canada, said not only does the tournament provide proceeds for the organization, but it highlights Brampton's sports talent. Funds raised from the tournament will go right back to the community, he said.
"We have a lot of talent in Brampton, especially in sports," he said. "Ball hockey is a big sport here."
Khalsa Aid nominated for peace prize
Khalsa Aid provides support to victims of natural and manmade disasters around the world. That includes Brampton, where in February 2022 it worked with the city and emergency services to provide emergency kits to residents affected by floods in the Churchville area.
"Anytime there's a need within the city of Brampton, we work with authorities and we're always there on the front lines," Toor said.
The organization's work has been highlighted by several Canadian politicians. Last year, Khalsa Aid was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by Edmonton Mill Woods MP Tim Uppal, Brampton South MPP Prabmeet Sarkaria, and Brampton mayor Patrick Brown.
It's no secret that many Sikhs love hockey, Sandhu said. Hockey Night in Canada has its popular Punjabi-language broadcast, spearheaded by sports broadcaster and journalist Harnarayan Singh. Whether it's on the ice, on the field, or on foot in ball hockey, it's popular across the community in Brampton.
"You'll see a robust hockey culture here, and that's special, something we need to celebrate," Sandhu said.