More than 1,200 players on 88 teams will converge on Kelowna this weekend for the 2013 edition of the Sweetheart Ringette Tournament.
One of the largest events of its kind in Canada, the tournament will feature 14 teams from the Kelowna Ringette Association, 60 from other parts of B.C., including West Kelowna, and 14 more from Alberta.
Play begins on Thursday at eight different ice surfaces in the Central Okanagan—Royal LePage, Jim Lind, Memorial Arena, two rinks at CNC, Rutland East and West, and Winfield Arena.
There are 10 different divisions of competition, from the U9 to U18+ age groups.
Tournament director Melissa Elsom said annual event brings some much needed exposure to the sport.
“We have 200 players here in Kelowna, but most people don’t know a whole lot about ringette,” said Elsom. “It’s a fast sport, a great sport and it’s nice for people to get a chance to see what it’s all about.”
Including players, coaches and families, the organizing committee expects no fewer than 2,000 people will make their way to Kelowna for the 23rd annual four-day event, a significant boost for the local economy.
“We have seven hotels as our sponsors and they’re all pretty much sold out for the week,” said tournament director Melissa Elsom. “We’ve had many calls and emails from people about restaurants, and other things to do while they’re here. Some teams are going up to Big White…some Alberta teams are flying in for this, so this tournament really does bring in a lot of business for Kelowna.”
The opening ceremonies ‘Ringette Night in the Okanagan’ will be held Saturday from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. at Royal LePage Place.
As a special sideline feature to the tournament, the National Ringette League’s B.C. Thunder will be in Kelowna during the event and will hold in inter-squad scrimmage.
The Thunder will also conduct clinics for younger players.
More than 650 participation medals will be awarded to all U9, U10 and U12 players.
On Sunday, there will be 14 gold and bronze games with more than 250 medals to be presented.
For more information on the Kelowna Sweetheart Ringette Tournament, visit kelownasweetheart.com