Politics, sports and the creation of the Quebec team
Before I go any further, let me make this important point of clarification: you are reading a sports column. If the question raised at the beginning of this text immediately directs you to the sovereignist question, you have come to the wrong address.
We’re talking about hockey here and the place Quebecers have held in the history of the sport.
In my previous column on international junior hockey, I highlighted that Hockey Quebec brings together the fourth largest pool of hockey players in the world. Therefore, Quebec has more hockey players than all European countries except Russia. Nevertheless, the reality of Canadian hockey means that only two, three or four Quebecers a year have the privilege of participating in the world juniors.
This situation is extremely unfortunate, because hockey is a part of Quebec’s world sports heritage.
Various versions of hockey-like games or sports have been recorded on several continents over the centuries. Historians believe that British soldiers brought a version of the sport to Canada. Besides Montreal, other Canadian cities such as Halifax and Kingston have claimed the status of the birthplace of hockey. However, in the end, no one can deny that it was in Montreal that the sport really developed and became modern before spreading to the northern hemisphere of the planet.
- The first indoor hockey game was introduced on March 3, 1875 at the Victoria Field.
- The world’s first official team was founded in 1877 at McGill.
- The first union
nationalThe Canadian Amateur Hockey Association was founded in Montreal in 1886.
- Governor Frederick Stanley first attended a hockey game in Montreal in 1888. His love for sports later led him to buy a silver trophy to be awarded to the best team in the country.
- All of these major developments preceded the founding of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in Paris in 1908.
- Since Montreal is the center of hockey, in 1917 the NHL established its headquarters there.
In short, Quebec played a role in hockey similar to the role played by the four countries that make up Great Britain, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the history of football.
Between 1863 and 1880, at the same time, hockey was established in Montreal, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (later divided), giving birth to the first four football associations. Their existence and first international matches even predate the creation of FIFA.
Therefore, FIFA appreciates the great contribution of these four countries. This allows all four of them to participate as separate teams in major international competitions such as the Euros or the World Cup.
At the Olympic Games, four unite under the flag of one and the same country. On several occasions FIFA tried to reassure the British that their 140 or 150 years of sporting history would never be called into question and
Team Great Britain The Olympic Games could never be an excuse to remove the Scottish, Welsh or Irish teams from the international stage.
So, there is no political controversy about the existence of these separate teams. In the UK, people see this as respecting each other’s differences, personalities and cultures. In addition, they appreciate the beautiful and long sports rivalries against them.
The British context, based on more than a thousand years of history, is therefore more mature than ours.
On our side of the Atlantic, even if the creation of Canada is the result of the union of two nations and the Canadian Parliament passes a resolution recognizing that Quebecers constitute one nation, it is almost impossible to discuss the subject of the Quebec national team. conversation that raises passions and… shields.
At the end of the day, let’s not tell a story. There is zero chance of Quebec getting access to international IIHF competitions in the near future.
At the level of sports, this is a big problem.
Because nowadays, the necessary recipe for developing high-level athletes almost inevitably includes exposure to international competition at a young age.
Tennis Canada has become a world reference after deciding to bring together the best young talents in the same training center under the supervision of top coaches and allowing them to travel around the world to show themselves at the best level.
Swimming in Canada did the same. And since then, when they go to the Olympics, Canadian swimmers have to plan enough space in their luggage to bring back all their medals.
Quebec began developing major league baseball players in the early 1990s, when ABC, a developmental academy, was created in Montreal to bring together the best talent and then bring them to the highest level of the North American game and to the eyes of employers.
South of the border, USA Hockey brings together the best American hockey players from the age of 16 in its development program. In their schedule, these young people face bigger opponents than themselves. At the age of 16, 17, 18 and 19, these hockey players protect their country’s colors on the international stage. The bottom line: 9 of the NHL’s top 40 goal scorers are American. 20 years ago they were three times less.
The Finns also start a national team program for their best hockey players at the age of 16. Despite having fewer players than Quebec, Finland has won three of the last nine world juniors. And the number of Finnish hockey players regularly playing in the NHL has increased by 50% in the last 20 years, from 20 to 30.
The day Hockey Canada backs Quebec’s bid for the IIHF will probably have hen’s teeth.
On the other hand, nothing would prevent Quebec from adopting world best practices and bringing its best 16-year-old talents together for one year in the same high-level program that would allow them to progress with their core youth. team.
Instead of playing in the third or fourth tier of the QMJHL, these top 16-year-old talents can be coached by the best coaches available, placed on a custom schedule, and even exposed to international competition as part of a friendly. matches or invitational tournaments.
Given the global trend and the current state of Canadian hockey, such a national program would be the least we could do to stimulate Quebec hockey.
Unbelievable, authors A report on the future of Quebec hockey missed this opportunity last year.
It should be noted that among the members of the committee responsible for the preparation of this report, several were directly related to the QMJHL. Not surprisingly, the committee proposed significant changes everywhere except the QMJHL.
Interestingly, the report suggested instead the creation of a national program for 17-year-old boys. But you probably won’t believe it, it was a program for 17-year-old players who couldn’t make the QMJHL team!
It was therefore suggested that the government (and Quebec Hockey) invest heavily and mobilize the resources of the National Institute of Sports (INS) to develop second-tier players and perhaps increase the depth of the teams. .
We don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
For all these reasons, Quebec does not have a national program that allows for the development of the best athletes in one sport…the one we have developed.