I had the distinctive privilege of taking one of the greatest cultural hockey teams ever assembled to Kaszebe, the homeland of our Kashubian ancestors. It was an experience that our Kashubian Griffins hockey team will never forget. Since the invitation from Michal Smigielski went out last June to play hockey in Kaszebe anticipation was high and we did not know what to expect.
Upon touching down at Gdunsk, the capital city of the Kashub Nation on Wednesday, April 2th, we were entertained with Kashubian music, greeted by fans and the media. What a welcome to Kaszebe. One of the first goals of the hockey team members was to kiss the sacred meadow soil of their ancestors.
For the next few days, our team was out in the communities, promoting the upcoming games and introducing themselves. They were invited to a school in Lipusz where they were greeted by young fans who clung to them as if they were rock stars. The students fell in love with the boys in gold. They played some floor hockey with the senior classes in their beautiful gym. Over two hundred students would not let them leave until our boys signed autographs and posed for pictures.
Our team was welcomed by Lipusz Mayor Miroslaw Ebertowski and was presented gifts from the town to show appreciation for our team coming to Kaszebe. In Koscierzyna, they were met by Mayor Zdislaw Czucha who welcomed them to his beautiful town hall and market square, where the team met excited fans who wished them luck at the games. As a good gesture, our team handed out tickets to these fans.
On Friday morning, the team had a practise and were joined by some young hockey players from Sopot and Gdansk. None of them were Kashub, but Polish. For some reason, the Kashubs in Kaszebe do not play hockey, but I feel that is about to change. After the practise, the team headed to the village of Sianowo, the home of the Blessed Mother of Sianowo, Queen of the Kashub people and the Kashub nation. The team joined in a Way of the Cross Procession with all the folks from Sianowo. Our ancestors would of been proud.
Then the weekend was upon us and what would be in store for us? We did not know who was going to watch us. How good is the competition going to be and will the fans enjoy themselves? When the fans started to come in that evening, we knew that there was going to be something very special. All we could see was a sea of gold and black. The organizers named the event as HOCKEY WEEKEND in KASZEBE. We all felt right at home.
The games were also in honour of Daniel Czapiewski, a Kashubian Giant. Daniel pasted away last fall, and will always be remembered for the work he had done to help build the bridge of friendship between Kaszebe and Canada’s Kaszebe.
Get your April 16, 2014 edition of The Valley Gazette to read this full story.