Hockey Game: Ottawa Service Attaches Association
8th December 2010 by Andrew Needs, Ottawa | 1 Comment
Deputy High Commissioner, Felicity Buchanan, recently wrote a guest blog on the opening of the Whales/Tohora Exhibition in Toronto. I think it is a great way to widen my blog readers’ awareness of the work of the office more generally and to make clear that we have very much a team operation going on here. While I am going to write my own blog this week, again on Rugby World Cup issues, I have also invited Group Captain Shaw James, our resident Defence Adviser based in the High Commission, to write a second guest blog. Shaw is an essential member of the NZ Inc team in Canada, his main focus is on direct defence to defence contacts, which includes a number of New Zealand military personnel in training or secondment roles in Canada. Shaw also forms part of our team when we are working on broader aspects of the security relationship with Canada where there are policy and operational elements.
Shaw writes :
Every New Zealand Embassy and High Commission is in some way affected by the culture of the host nation with which it resides. It is important to get the ‘flavour’ of the culture in order to begin to understand the national context and build strong relationships. So it is in Canada.
A few years ago a very perceptive Dean of the Ottawa Service Attaches Association (OSAA) decided it would be a good idea to challenge the Canadian Top Brass to a friendly game of hockey; that first game raised $CAD 18,000 for charity, which was donated to the Military Families Fund of the Canadian Forces. Since then the ‘big game’ between the Lame Ducks and the GOFOs (General Officers and Flag Officers) has become something of a fixture (although usually without a charity aspect), with a challenge formally made and responded to between the Chief of Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, and the OSAA Dean.
I was invited by the Canadians to be the OSAA Dean fairly early in my tour as NZ Defence Adviser and I may not have accepted had I known that it would involve leading the Lame Ducks against a group of individuals who were practically born on skates! But it’s the assymmetry that’s valuable; the Canadians are, frankly, astonished and gratified that the Attaches are willing to form a team from complete novices and, within a fairly short time, have them skating like Canadian five-year-olds. Not all Attaches skate, but the Ducks form the core of the Corps and are well supported by the entire Association – the result is a very tight-knit association that benefits from excellent comradeship and contact with the top echelon of the Canadian Forces.
This year the big game occurred on 1 December and proved to be the toughest yet! The Ducks, comprising representatives from New Zealand, United States, Russia, Australia, China, United Kingdom, Poland, France, Germany, Argentina, Netherlands, Mexico, Turkey, and Chile, went hard at the GOFOs for two 20-minute periods. Spurred by deafening crowd support, including a strong contingent from the NZ High Commission, the Ducks managed a respectable 4-8 loss, the smallest margin in the history of the big game. In the end, it was not hockey that was the winner, but the bonds we forged in taking up the challenge.