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Hockey veteran Ken Pereira will be Canada’s flag-bearer for New Delhi

source: Winnipeg Free Press
Ken Pereira has walked behind nine other Canadian flag-bearers during his field hockey career and experienced goosebumps every time he’s entered a stadium to a crowd’s roar.
Now in what he admits is the twilight of his career, Pereira will get his own opportunity to carry the flag at the Commonwealth Games next month in New Delhi, India.

source: Winnipeg Free Press
Ken Pereira has walked behind nine other Canadian flag-bearers during his field hockey career and experienced goosebumps every time he’s entered a stadium to a crowd’s roar.
Now in what he admits is the twilight of his career, Pereira will get his own opportunity to carry the flag at the Commonwealth Games next month in New Delhi, India.
“I’m just picturing that moment in my head of holding that flag and walking out having three to 400 Canadians behind me,” said Pereira. “It’s gonna be super cool.”
The 37-year-old midfielder from Unionville, Ont., is a two-time Olympian. His memorable goal in the 1999 Pan American Games gold-medal game versus Argentina launched the Canadians into the 2000 Olympics.
Pereira, who was named Canada’s flag-bearer for the Games on Saturday, has earned over 300 international caps for Canada, and plays professionally in the Netherlands.
He’s made three previous Commonwealth Games appearances, in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
“It was pretty crazy,” Pereira said from Holland. “You just think about all the other athletes in Canada that could get it.
“Field hockey is just such a small sport in Canada. . . I was pretty excited and pretty honoured that I was able to get it.”
The Commonwealth Games’ opening ceremonies are Oct. 3 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The Games run through Oct. 14.
Pereira was born in Toronto but his family is from Goa in Western India. When India failed to qualify for the 2000 Olympics, the Indian media embraced the Canadian team due to the number of players, such as Pereira, that were of Indian descent.
Like many Canadian kids, Pereira started skating when he was three years old with an eye on someday playing ice hockey. That dream ended when Pereira realized he was too small to play professionally.
“I also was playing against guys that were just way bigger than me in ice hockey and I was getting crunched a lot,” he said. “I remember snapping my collarbone on a check from behind and I was like, ‘Yeah maybe I’m going to stop playing right now.'”
With his uncle and cousin’s encouragement, Pereira picked up a field hockey stick at age 16 with a Toronto team. Then he started making his way through the Canadian ranks and never looked back at the rink.
Field hockey is a much bigger sport in several countries outside of Canada, but Pereira said he never thought about changing his citizenship to play elsewhere.
“Just being born in Canada, I couldn’t imagine playing for another country,” he said. “Even though (field hockey is) bigger in other countries, I couldn’t imagine putting on another jersey unless it had the maple leaf on it.
“I would just find it really weird to me right now, it would be strange.”
He’s also hoping the sight of a field hockey player holding the flag will remind Canadians hockey is also played off the ice.
“Some people don’t even know that we have a men’s field hockey team that goes to the Olympics and stuff like that,” he said. “I think it will totally promote the sport in Canada for sure.
“It’s a total honour for me. I’m pretty excited and I can’t wait to get there.”
Tyler Harper, The Canadian Press

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