Andrew DeSousa never made it to the IIHF World Junior Championship as a player, but he’s got a big role in the 2019 tournament in Vancouver, taking on the volunteer job of team host with Russia.
DeSousa, whose day job is with the Vancouver Police Department, spent five seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Tri-City Americans, Vancouver Giants, Spokane Chiefs and Regina Pats, followed by a four-year run at the University of New Brunswick that included a CIS national title in 2007.
HockeyCanada.ca caught up with DeSousa to talk about his volunteer experience…
What made you want to volunteer?
When I got asked [to be a host], I didn’t hesitate. It’s a great way to give back to the game of hockey. I pretty much grew up playing, played all through my adult years. The game gave a lot to me and it’s time to give back to the game.
What exactly does a team host do?
Absolutely everything. Trips to the airport, dropping off players, picking up coaching staff and managers to [take them to] practice, making sure their meals are all arranged, accreditation, ice times, making sure everyone is on the bus. It’s quite a broad position.
How has it been working with Russia?
It’s been great. We have been with them since the day they got here (December 15), and we’ll be with them until the day they leave (January 6). We were up in Vernon for pre-competition camp before the tournament started and we got to meet a lot of staff and the players and they’ve been awesome to us. It’s tough with the language barrier, but we’re starting to get to know each other and they’ve been fantastic so far.
How do the things you do on a day-to-day basis help you with this job?
First of all, volunteering is great to do in the community. The Vancouver Police Department has been great, they’ve been supporting me with this. At the end of the day, I’m helping people out every day at my job, and it’s kind of the same thing here. You’re trying to help Team Russia get around town; I work in the downtown core, so I have my bearings downtown, and I’m driving them all around downtown so I can point out places for them to go and that kind of thing. A few of them know I’m with the police department and they seem to think that’s kind of cool.
What are some of your favourite memories from playing the game?
I think just going to the rink every day. I do miss the competitive level every night, and when I’m watching I still get into the games. It was a fantastic experience in the Western Hockey League, and then four years of CIS at the University of New Brunswick.
What did you take from hockey that helps you with the VPD?
I was a leader when I played, I was captain or alternate captain, and with being a police officer you have to be a leader as well. I’ve been doing some acting sergeant duties, and you have to fill a mentor role for the younger guys. I’ve been [with the VPD] almost 10 years now, so I am one of the senior guys on the streets now downtown, and you learn a lot of things [in hockey] like discipline, how to handle yourself and professionalism.
Originally published at http://hockeycanada.ca/news/index?lang=en-ca&id=281938