Hockey stars join President Niinistö on outdoor ice for climate change challenge

The President is a keen hockey player, and put his skates on with former NHL stars at the annual Save Pond Hockey event.

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President Sauli Niinistö at a Save Pond Hockey tournament, Helsinki 2019 / Credit: TPK Twitter

President Sauli Niinistö has joined former ice hockey stars at a weekend tournament that aims to highlight climate change issues.

The Save Pond Hockey campaign is drawing attention to global warming, and using ice hockey as the way to get the message across.

“As hockey players, we can already see the changes happening on the ice. Winters are getting shorter and warmer, making it more difficult to play outdoor hockey” says the organisation’s official website.

“Before it’s too late, we must connect the dots between the consequences of climate change and the future of winter sports” the site says.

Niinistö joined Russian three-time Stanley Cup winner Viacheslav Fetisov, ex-Jokerit captain Ossi Väänänen, and former Finnish NHL stars like Ville NieminenSean BergenheimNiklas Hagman; alongside Olympic medalists Tiia Reima and Emma Terho on two teams of big name players in the opening game of the event.

File picture of Steve Baynes, Save Pond Hockey organisation / Credit: Save Pond Hockey

“Awareness is growing about climate change in general and I think everybody is getting more concerned and worried, and realising we all need to do something now. We all need to take action, and in one way that’s something these big name players can do is come to events and put their name behind it and physically support the cause” explains Helsinki tournament manager Steve Baynes.

After the star-studded opening match, 275 pond hockey enthusiasts took part in the main tournament, from amateur clubs, Finnish companies and the Canadian Embassy. Visiting foreign teams from Sweden, Scotland and Switzerland also joined the event.

“We’ve grown quite a bit since having our first tournament in Helsinki in 2015 and now having four tournaments around Finland, and trying to spread the awareness globally as well and hopefully try go cooperate with other organisations around the world” Baynes tells News Now Finland.

The tournament offsets the annual emissions for all the players on the two winning teams.

The next Save Pond Hockey tournament takes place this coming weekend in Mikkeli; with Tampere and Oulu dates set up for March.

President Niinistö poses with other Save Pond Hockey players at a weekend tournament in Helsinki / Credit: TPK Twitter