The Ontario Minor Hockey Association has launched an investigation after a Woodville player allegedly used discriminatory language towards an opponent from Millbrook during a game last week.
According to a social media post from Sanj Sukumaran – the father of the Millbrook player – the “racist taunt” occurred in the third period of a Midget game.
“Last night, Zach was playing a home game against a team from Woodville, a part of the Woodville hockey organization. Zach is a good hockey player with size and speed who tends to be hard to play against and who in this game had already scored two goals going into the third period,” the post, which has since been deleted, read.
“It was during this third period that this racist taunt was sent his way, loud enough for the benches to hear it and many on the ice. The refs did…nothing as usual.”
Sukumaran alleges that the Woodville player said “Go back to where you came from, you immigrant.”
Sadly, it’s not the first time Sukumaran said the has encountered apparent racism on the ice.
“Never in any of the other sports played have they dealt with racism. We moved from Peterborough to Millbrook a number of years ago after many of the boys had finished playing hockey. My second youngest son, Zachary, decided he would play on the Milllbrook rep team since we lived there. This change meant that we would be playing in many more rural rinks. That first year he was called the ‘N word.’ The coach of our team at the time was livid and took this incident up the ladder till a resolution was found. The OMHA reassured us that there would be zero tolerance for this kind of language or behavior and if the refs heard it that child would face significant consequences,” Sukumaran wrote.
“Sadly every year since then for the past five years or so Zach has had racists taunts thrown his way with minimal repercussions for the offender or the teams or organizations that the teams came from. A common thread in all of this is that the refs ‘never’ hear it. In most of these incidents other kids on the ice have heard it, the benches have heard it, the coaches have heard it but the refs don’t seem to and as a result nothing happens.”
The alleged taunt provoked a physical confrontation on the ice and saw Zach thrown out of the game. The Woodville player faced no repercussions from the referees.
Woodville Minor Hockey addressed the incident in a formal statement posted to its website.
“In no way does Woodville Minor Hockey condone any type of language or behaviour that is disrespectful, offensive, abusive, racist, or sexist. In particular, behaviour, which constitutes harassment, abuse or bullying, will not be tolerated,” it reads.
“We look forward to a swift, clarifying and appropriate resolution from the OMHA, in this matter. More so, we look forward to being a part of the solution to end the above behaviour anad allow all of our members to be part of a safe and fun environment in the game of hockey.”