Come next weekend the only game in town is going to be what’s been called the fastest game on ice.
Ringette teams will take over ice sheets in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country next weekend when 90 teams from all over Western Canada converge on Kelowna for the 21st Annual Sweetheart Ringette Tournament.
“This is the biggest tournament in western Canada for ringette,” said tournament coordinator Stacey Galigan. “The theme around it is Valentine’s Day and we have a fantastic opening ceremonies planned to kick off the tournament.”
The opening ceremonies of the sweetheart tournament will be this Friday at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna. All 90 teams will be in attendance at the ceremonies that kick off the event at 6:15 p.m. pm Friday.
Games will take place at the Capital News Centre, Both ice sheets at Rutland Arena and at RLP and Jim Lind on the Westside as well as at Memorial in Kelowna and in Lake Country.
More than 1,200 people are expected in the Central Okanagan, staying at one of the six host hotels for the event.
Galigan says the general feel of the tournament is what makes it special and is why it has had such phenomenal success.
“I think it’s the spirit of the tournament, there is so much energy and enthusiasm,” said Galigan. “There are a whole bunch of girls of different ages and they all bond so well together.”
The youngest competitors will be around five years old and the event also includes an open division for adult teams. The majority of the competitors will be from eight to 15 years of age. Eleven teams form Kelowna will take part, while six are form West Kelowna and are six from Vernon. The rest of will come from across B.C. and Alberta.
Over 600 hours of volunteer time is needed to run the event that is based more around fun than winning.
“Ringette is such a great team game,” said Galigan. “It’s almost like non-competitive. It’s more about team play and sportsmanship.”
The event takes place Feb. 10 to 13. Admission is free and games take place all weekend at every local rink. You can find out more at www.kelownasweetheart.com.