American NHL star notices and sponsors hocky player from Swakopmund

Eileen van der Schyff

In 2018 in the Namibian Ice and Inline Hockey Association (NIIHAO) trials, a hopeful boy from Swakopmund, George Tjahaapi, secured a spot in two of the teams that were selected for competing in the 300 team tournament in the United States of America, called the State Wars where Patrick Maroon, an American National Hockey League (NHL) star saw the young Namibian hockey player.

The greatest moment in the entire tournament for George was his meeting with NHL Star Patrick Maroon. Patrick Maroon is an inline hockey player in the National Hockey League in the United states. He plays for the St. Louis Blues. Pat and his team, the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup, the NHL Championship Trophy, in 2019. “Patrick was at State Wars with his family and coaching his son who is in the same age division as George. Pat saw George play and was impressed with his playing ability.” Said the Namibian Couch, Brian Sobel. After hearing of the financial struggle, it was to get George to America for State Wars he wanted to meet the eleven-year-old.
Patrick took George hockey gear shopping in the arena with the Namibian couch, and Lizette Traut. He bought George new sticks, elbow pads, gloves, shin pads, under armor, socks, padded pants, tape and a hockey bag. In the days before, George was sponsored new skates by Tour and the Pirates. Pat’s kindness and generosity did not stop at buying George new gear, Pat showed up for George’s last 3 games and talked with George after each game. At the end of the tournament George and Pat’s son exchanged jerseys. George says he will never forget Patrick and his family and will work hard to hopefully see them all again. Sobel said, “These selfless acts are examples that bring out the best in all of us. It’s such an amazing world, or small world, where an NHL player from America, such as Patrick and a Namibian boy such as George can meet and find common ground in a sport, they both love and in the end find themselves a new friend.” Sobel concluded: “The kindness and generosity shown towards George caused him to have trouble wrapping his head around the entire experience and at times he just says, ‘God bless Pat.’”

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