By René J. Roy
PORT AUX BASQUES – Junior Billard is the Director for U11 and U13 Female Division of minor hockey in Port aux Basques. He was in charge of a group of excited players on Thursday evening, April 7. They were gathered at the Bruce II Sports arena to formally receive new jerseys and socks, presented to them by Matador Mining.
“They reached out to our organization as a whole, and they wanted to help a division of younger kids, and so we decided the female U11 U13 were in bad need of a new set of jerseys,” said Billard, who estimates they were gifted about 40 jerseys.
The new uniforms are jet black in colour, sporting Matador Mining’s logo on the front crest. There is red piping on the sleeves, around the neck, and the bottom of the jerseys. The Blaze fiery logo is predominant on the shoulder flashes.
The players seemed to enjoy the new uniforms. Emma Smith is definitely a fan.
“I really like them. I like the material and the colours. The material is really different. They feel different. They’re thicker, and the other ones, like you could see your gear through it.”
“They’re different, but that’s good,” agreed Ana Harvey.
The Australian Mining company has been present in the region for the last four years, working on its Cape Ray gold mining project, and is doing its best to become more involved in the area.
Crispin Pike, Vice President of discovery for Matador, was present for the donation along with Ian Murray, Executive Chairman of the Board, and Warren Potma, Chief Geologist. Pike explained the importance of involvement with youth sports, as well as his own personal involvement.
“Matador came to Newfoundland in 2018 and started out smaller, and now the project is growing. And we’re trying to grow our presence here on the Southwest coast.”
Pike is originally from St. John’s, and is a firm believer in the importance of community support.
“We’re building a Newfoundland team and part of that is engaging the community,” said Pike. “Matador is here to do exploration and potentially develop the next gold producing mine in Newfoundland. And we want Southwestern Newfoundland to benefit from that. And we want to be here. We want to be part of the community and we want to engage the community.”
That includes participating in annual festivities.
“We entered the Christmas Parade for the first time this year, and we just want to be more involved in the community here in Southwest Newfoundland.”
Pike played minor league hockey in his youth and knows how important sponsorship can be.
“Minor hockey is something that I grew up playing and I remember that sponsorship went a long way when I played hockey. You know, for travelling, and for jerseys.”
Pike says the design is partially inspired by the Ottawa Senators uniforms after the company turned to the internet for design inspiration.
“I’m not a Sens fan. I’m a Habs fan,” he admitted.
It seems the trio from Matador Mining are now also Port aux Basques Blaze fans.