Let’s get one thing straight: this is India, nothing goes as planned. At the same time, everything seems to work out. This country, including Ladakh, manages to accomplish so much through so much difficulty. With that understanding, The Grand Plan of The Hockey Foundation was to return to India and figure out specifics. To clarify, my plan was to bring as much equipment as I possibly could, teach hockey wherever I could (reinforcing teamwork through on-ice instruction), and donate hockey & solar equipment (donated by Goal0 & Powertraveller) to whomever seemed to need it most. As long as those general guidelines are met, the goals of The Hockey Foundation have been met and I’m a happy skater.
As mentioned in the previous post, I’m operating a bit more Indian these days, allowing the plan to unfold as it’s intended. So far, so good.
After settling in with some friends, I was able to meet up with Akshay Kumar, General Secretary of the Ice Hockey Association of India. He still had my equipment that I left behind two years ago, and we were able to hash out a tentative cooperative development plan throughout Ladakh. By the next day, Alex and I were enroute to Ladakh, where we were greeted by Mohd. Bashir, General Secretary of the Ladakh Winter Sports Club. Akshay had coordinated our arrival with Bashir, and while we had some ideas of where to stay in Leh from my previous trip, this was also taken care of by Bashir & LWSC. Too easy.
From there, the plan was to acclimate. Two years ago, my excitement of being in a new and magnificent part of the world led to a stupid decision to skate immediately after arriving. To put that into perspective, I had spent 24 hours travelling, which contributed to jet lag/exhaustion, and I arrived to an altitude of approx. 11,500 feet, twice that of Denver. The headache I experienced two years ago was debilitating, so my plan was to relax and avoid the headache. 50% of that plan worked out. The headache returned, along with the dizziness, lack of concentration, and loss of appetite (the worst of the symptoms, in my professional opinion). 48 hours later, I was finally able to regain control of my body & mind, and being setting the plan in place…sort of.
There was a general idea of which towns to teach hockey in, but nothing concrete. I wasn’t even sure how many days I wanted to spend in each town. Fortunately, within 4 days of settling in and reacclimating myself with the state of hockey in Ladakh, a more concrete foundation was laid:
- Observe Under-18 Tournament in Leh
- Visit SECMOL
- Visit Tournament being held Tangtse (includes girls/womens tournament)
- Spend a week training children in the Leh area
- Spend 5-7 days training in Dras
- Spend 5-7 days training in Chiktan
- Spend 3-5 days training in Dhomkhar (there’s a reason for the reduction of days here)
- Play with the Canadians for the Ladakh Tourism Cup
- Coach an Under-18 All-star team in the Ladakh Tourism Cup (an over-18 tournament; this was a request from the LWSC)
This is the plan currently underway, with a few edits here and there, such as a movie on Ladakhi hockey being filmed, and a couple of German reporters doing a feature on womens hockey in Ladakh, that I assisted with (getting them the people and information, where I could).
As I also previously mentioned, I am accompanied on this trip by Alex Harney, who has been and will continue taking photos & video of everything through the first week of February, which takes him to Dras. Alex and I were able to get special permission from Virgin Atlantic to bring along extra luggage for this trip. This luggage was entirely made up of donated hockey equipment and solar equipment. For now, we are holding onto the hockey equipment, observing who needs it most. It’s very easy to go somewhere and give somebody everything you have. But there are a lot of conditions to donating equipment the right way:
- Dumping equipment off onto an organization/anyone doesn’t necessarily get the equipment to those who need it MOST
- Private donations to a family/child are fine, but they should have a true desire for the equipment, or they will end up selling it
- Public donations hold an organization accountable to the group they serve
- Observation allows us to make an educated decision
- The more remote villages usually have a greater need for resources than the main town
The same goes for the solar equipment. For the time being, Alex and I are using the equipment (we’ll talk about how it’s been performing at a later time) to keep our masssive technology assemblage alive. Gadgets are a passion of mine, and this trip is definitely to put a lot of different types of electronics to the test. I plan to write about that too.
Anyway, back to the solar. I have a plan on where to donate the equipment. There are a few schools in mind, but for now, we will observe the region, and use the equipment to help us accomplish our secondary goal of communicating what we’re doing. What’s going on is next up…well, that’s the tentative plan.