Team Canada names Hamdani captain
Ball hockey is much more than a recreational activity reserved for the driveway or basement for Munavar Hamdani.
The 34-year-old St. Catharines native has played ball hockey at an advanced level including in 2013 when he represented Team Pakistan at the World Ball Hockey championships in Newfoundland, and then again in 2015 in Switzerland. He was also part of Team Canada that won silver in 2018 in the Czech Republic.
Hamdani will once again have a chance to play on an international stage as captain of Team Canada for the 2022 World Championships in Slovakia.
Hamdani was playing for his local team, the Niagara War Pigs, at a tournament in London when he was noticed by Team Canada general manager Mauro Cugini.
“Right place, right time, I guess,” Hamdani said. “He approached me after the tournament while we were playing. He just asked me a few things, how long I’ve been playing, and that was basically it. And from there, it’s pretty much been a blur to be honest.”
Hamdani isn’t taking for granted the responsibility of the captaincy.
“Saying that I’m a member of Team Canada ball hockey . . . it’s a 22-man roster and think of how many people are just in Ontario. I’m fortunate enough to call myself one of the members right now.”
Hamdani doesn’t expect to be an overly vocal captain.
“I consider myself a more lead-by-example type of player,” he said. “I’m not one for the big speeches in the room or anything like that. I like to lead on the floor, and if I do need to speak up, I’m able to get my point across to the team.
“We have an excellent leadership group they’ve selected as well who obviously are going to be instrumental getting our message across to the team and to follow the guidelines and the program that the coaching staff has set out for us to accomplish.”
Hamdani said the team won’t have much of an opportunity to practice together before the championships, which are slated for the week of June 19-25, 2022.
“I think the biggest problem we have is because everyone is from all over Canada, from out west and out east and guys here from Ontario, we don’t really see each other until maybe a few days before we depart,” he said. “We will have a little mini camp in Toronto where everybody flies in and we all meet and get to know each other, have a few practices, get line combinations set up, and any power play stuff we need to figure out. Basically just get the lines set up and kind of gel together.”
Hamdani, who is employed by Hamdani Textiles, Ltd., started playing ball hockey with friends for fun and then graduated to a more competitive level.
“It was like a whole other life outside of just normal playing for fun,” he said. “This was an actual event that people were killing themselves to win and to play in. I’m very competitive and I love seeing that every game meant something. You had to go there and show up every game, play well, and do well for your team.”
The War Pigs play in a Tier 1 league which is sanctioned by the OBHA (Ontario Ball Hockey Association) and run out of Toronto.
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