Hockey sis­ters sup­port street-re­claim­ing pi­lot

Lo­cal women would like to see StreetPlay project in­tro­duced in North York by Jo-Anne Craine

Bayview Post - - News -

It was on the road in front of their home near Yonge Street and Finch Av­enue that the five Asmi sis­ters learned to play ball hockey. They of­ten played to­gether against the neigh­bour­hood boys in a game of shinny or two, and that has only made them bet­ter.

Hus­nah, Haleemah, Sa­ji­dah, Nuha and Asiyah now play com­pet­i­tively on the same team for the Toronto Women’s Ball Hockey League. In Au­gust they played to­gether in the On­tario pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onships for the sec­ond year in a row, this time mak­ing it to the semi­fi­nals.

“We’re very fa­mil­iar with the way each of us plays and what our strengths and ca­pa­bil­i­ties are,” said one of the sis­ters, Hus­nah.

Un­til about a year ago, the sis­ters could have been fined by the City of Toronto for im­ped­ing traf­fic or for keep­ing hockey nets and equip­ment curb­side out­side their home. For­tu­nately for them, and other ball hockey en­thu­si­asts across Toronto, the ban was suc­cess­fully ap­pealed in 2016. Now, there is even a pi­lot project hap­pen­ing in Mid­town that al­lows res­i­dents to block off ac­cess to their street for a few hours each week to pro­mote out­door play.

Deb Don­caster, pres­i­dent of Earth Day Canada, cre­ated the StreetPlay project and se­cured an On­tario Tril­lium Grant of $75,000 to de­velop and im­ple­ment it. The pi­lot started in May and con­tin­ues to the end of Oc­to­ber. The re­search find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions will be pre­sented to Toronto City Coun­cil af­ter that.

“It’s a nec­es­sary in­ter­ven­tion I hope will shift the cul­ture [in neigh­bour­hoods],” said Don­caster.

She said she’d like to move to­ward “a child-friendly city or a play char­ter, where the in­vis­i­bil­ity of chil­dren comes to the fore­front.”

Hus­nah said she, for one, would like to see the StreetPlay project rolled out to more neigh­bour­hoods, like hers in North York.

“I don’t re­ally see a lot of kids play­ing on the street any more. That [StreetPlay] could help en­cour­age it. It would be great,” she said. “[Out­side play] helps to cre­ate a sense of com­mu­nity and close­ness to your neigh­bours.”

In the mean­time, the Asmi sis­ters plan to con­tinue play­ing ball hockey with the sup­port of their com­mu­nity.

Hus­nah said she hopes to start a team at Ry­er­son, where she stud­ies, to en­cour­age the sport. And she’d like to see more girls get into ball hockey on neigh­bour­hood roads.

“I don’t re­ally see a lot of kids play­ing on the street any more.”

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