LIVING SLOVAK
THE CHURCHES, CENTRES OF ACTIVITY
THE ORGANIZATIONS
WILL YOU SPEAK SLOVAK?
THE UNKNOWN ARTS
SOCIAL NEEDS
COMMUNICATIONS
IS IT TIME TO GO BACK?
IT'S ONLY POLITICS
YOU'VE GOT TO BE THERE
WHO WILL SPEAK FOR US?
REMEMBERING THE PAST
THE WIRED COMMUNITY
PROJECTS TO CONSIDER
SPORTS TIMES
A PLACE TO SHOW OUR STUFF
THE STRUGGLING ARTS
COME TOGETHER
WHAT YOU MUST DO
SLOVAK SOM, AJ SLOVAK BUDEM!

Slovaks in Canada
in the Year 2000

by John V. Stephens, Q.C.,
Honorary Consul, Slovak Republic


SPORTS TIMES

One of the ways in which we make a considerable impact about our heritage and our worth as Canadians of Slovak heritage is through our success in sports.

Now that Slovakia has reached Group A in the world hockey tournaments, everyone in the world knows there is a Slovakia, where it is, and what magnificent athletes the country produces.

What a tremendous impact our handicapped athletes made at the Special Olympic Games held in Canada this year when the Slovak team won 30 medals!

But what about in Canada in the year 2000? There was a time when soccer was a popular sport among the immigrant communities, and Toronto Slovaks had one of the best teams. While the team was centered around Sts.Cyril & Methodius parish, it was known as the "Slovak" team, and many Slovaks would come to cheer on their team. It was amateur, everyone volunteered to keep the team and the league going, and it was fun.

In succeeding years, when the interest in soccer waned because of the overwhelming publicity given hockey, football and baseball in Canada, everyone knew that players like Stan Mikita, Elmer Vasko and Rudy Migay were Slovak idols who made it into the National Hockey League long before the Stastnys and the Ihnaceks.

With the sweep of a puck, the swat of a bat, and the punt of a football, our athletes do more to raise the profile of Slovaks in North America than through any other medium available. The feats of George Shuba, nicknamed "Shotgun" for the way he hit home runs in pinch-hit situations for the then Brooklyn Dodgers, even in the World Series, George Blanda in football, and scores of others created a myth about the wonderful prowess in sports Slovaks are.

One has only to look at the sports pages, where politics becomes a minor role player, to see how Slovakia is recognized -- our hockey team in its world-wide televised matches with Canada, the U.S. and Russia, the women's basketball championships recently played in Myava, all raise the awareness of Slovaks and Slovakia.

Sadly there is no Slovak soccer team in Toronto today, but we do have bowling and baseball teams and even a tennis tournament. We used to have annual golf tournaments here and they are coming back. These events must be encouraged and the community support them not only by making it possible that these events be held, but that they attend them.

We used to have a Slet sponsored by Sokol. How many of you remember the parades from the church to City hall by our athletes, men dressed in their white gymnastic outfits and the women in white blouses and blue skirts? We need to find more youngsters prepared to devote time to gymnastics to build up our presence in that sport again.

Many of our students attend high schools where gymnastic equipment is readily available. With that as a foundation, Sokol should be searching for leaders, trainers and young people interested in their own performance and making Sokol a power to be reckoned with again at gymnastics at provincial and Canada-wide tournaments.

Our parishes and local branches of fraternals should take a look at the number of their youth, then support programs appropriate to the number of youth available. It takes only 12 to start a hockey team, 10 for a basketball team, and 18 for volleyball.

Then there are the individual sports. Remember Jana Lazor and the success she was in rhythmics? There must be out there swimmers, divers, tennis players, yachtsmen, curlers, bowlers and dozens of other individual sports enthusiasts who need support and who can bring credit to our Slovak family in Canada and the U.S.

Unless our community sponsors youth activity on a major scale, and this includes choirs and folk dance groups, there will be no reason for our young people to identify themselves as being Slovak.

We can not let this happen.

Copyright of "Slovaks in Canada in the Year 2000" 1996 - John V. Stephens, Q.C.
All other contents & photographs 1997, Ondro Mihal.
All comments should be forwarded to
Ondro Mihal at omihal@slovak.com.
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Last update on
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