This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing the hockey coach Alexandr Tankos, who came from the Czech Republic with a Working Holiday visa and attended a city placement with INTERNeX.
He has been in Vancouver for 1 year since he came here, and he has the chance of staying 1 year more in Canada on a Young Professional Permit.
A month ago, he won the “Excellence in Coaching Awards”, award which is given to coaches who best exemplify the essentials of coaching (communication, instruction, player development, fair play, sportsmanship, leadership and organization).
Why did you choose Canada?
Well, I finished my studies in Public Administration in Prague and I decided that I wanted to improve my English Skills and also to gain new life experiences.
I considered the USA and UK, where I studied English for a short period, but Canada has the Working Holliday Program, which was really easy to participate in, and I decided that I could experience a new culture and experiences here.
I also chose Canada because this country is very friendly and it has a strong passion for ice hockey!
And why Vancouver?
I had other options like Toronto and more places, but Vancouver is a beautiful city and the weather is really good, and not very cold (during the winter -1 C).
How did you find INTERNeX International Exchange?
When I came back from the US to Europe, I asked my agency in the Czech Republic about some international programs and they were working with INTERNeX. They introduced me to Timothy Wells, President of INTERNeX. After a couple of meetings with Tim I understood what I should do in order to: find a good job related to my major, prepare for living in Canada, meet new people and what I needed for working in Canada.
What’s your job here and what tasks are you responsible for on daily basis?
I’m a coach at “Richmond ice hockey minor association” and “Pacific elite hockey school”. Where they run a very professional program. I received high level coaching and mentoring from the “Director of Players and Coach Development”; Glenn Wheeler, who gave me the background I needed and new experiences. In general I coach players from 6 to 17 years old in the skills session or team stuff as well.
My tasks are mainly training the guys at the ice rink and also off-ice (dryland). I also have to deal with parents, coaching meetings and prepare team building.
Wow. How did you decide to coach?
When I came to Canada, I realized that it was pretty tough to obtain employment in the governmental sector (high level of English and French, citizenship, etc.). So I asked myself “what should I do?” And that’s when I figured out that I could do something related with sports.
But why did you think about doing something related with sports?
Because before I started my University I used to play hockey in Czech Republic. I played in the junior team during the time I was studying in the high sport school and then I had the chance to play one year in the adult team. I finished my hockey career due to a few injures and then I started to study University.
I also had a couple experiences because I used to help my father, who was a general manager of one hockey club in Czech Republic; I was helping and watching him for more than 10 years.
What’s the first thing you did when you came to Canada?
First I went to what I consider the best language school in Vancouver (International House) to improve my language skills and to meet new friends. I recommend this to everybody. That was the start of my new life here in Canada.
Then I went to INTERNeX and that’s when I started to figure out what I was looking for.
The INTERNeX’ Team helped me a lot and supported me, arranged a meeting with the company, and they prepared me for my interview (How to introduce myself, how to dress and also the mentality for the meeting).
It was tough, but finally I got it, I recognize it was a big chance.
Do you find big differences between the ice hockey in Canada and Czech Republic?
First of all, we have to understand that Czech Republic has probably only around the 10% of hockey players that Canada has. If we want to be competitive with, we need to spend more time on ice and off-ice as well.
Another difference is that ice hockey clubs in Czech are more connected with adult’s hockey, boys can stay in one club since they start to play in “Hockey 1” until adults as a professional level. Here in Canada are many “small associations”, where the best players play till Midget, after they go to Major Midget, then to WHL as juniors, and then, if they are very good, to NHL.
And also the differences are seen in the parents. In Canada, parents pay more money, and they are logically also more involved in what the coach does.
Now talking about ice hockey, what do you think is necessary to be a hockey player?
I think you have to have these criteria:a sense of hockey, be fit, a background in hockey and have good luck. That’s all!!
How do you like your job and why?
I’ve got a job, which I love, for sure! And I love that, because I can help to kids every day. I teach them and I enjoy doing that. For me is not actually really a job.
What’s the best thing about your stay here in Vancouver?
I think the best thing is that I got a job, which I love and I’ve met honest and friendly people that helped me a lot. I went to a very good language school, in hockey I have been professionally mentored by the best coaches in B.C. and I always had the support of INTERNeX.
And what’s the worst thing about your stay here?
The worst part is that I’m very far away from home and maybe I don’t know so many people as I know in Czech.
So what is the first thing you will do when you return back home?
I’ll hang out with my parents, my grandparents and friends….and of course I’ll drink CZECH BEER!! Hehehehe.
Finally, would you recommend INTERNeX International Exchange?
Yeah, for sure I do! They helped me a lot!
But I just want to mention than people who want to come have to think about they have to try their best effort for getting what they want and they have to understand the Canadian culture.
I wanna say thank you to INTERNeX!
Thank you so much Alexandr for sharing your experiences in Canada with us and best of luck in your future !