Friendship League Profile – Scott Howe

Hi everybody and welcome to the second of a series of blog posts introducing the people behind the friendship league.  Each week we throw some questions at those of us involved to help give you a better picture of who we are, what we represent and why we do what we do.   In this week’s profile, we hear from HI Friendship League managing partner Scott Howe.  Check back next week for more!

  1. What is your name?

Scott Howe

  1. Where do you consider home?

I’m from Vancouver Canada but I feel most at home when I am on the road.

  1. What’s your favorite sport? Athlete/team?

Vancouver Canucks

  1. How are you involved with the HI Friendship League?

I’m one of HIFL Managing Partners of the league alongside my colleague Gordon Israel.  Together we organized the first ever Pyongyang Ice Hockey League event which took place in the DPRK last March.  Once we returned home the two of us decided that we enjoyed creating cross-cultural engagement through sport and felt that the initial participants of the PIHL had a great time.  For both those reasons we decided that it would be a shame to stop there, so we started the HI Friendship League.  I had previously lived and worked in the tourism industry in Kenya which inspired the Masai Football Classic.  The inspiration for Fumble in the Jungle came on a vacation to Costa Rica six months ago.

  1. Do you have a favorite sporting memory?

I’d have to say that time when the Canadian men’s national ice hockey team won gold at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.  For a country that prides itself on being the undisputed hockey kings, it had been way too many decades since the country had won hockey’s most elite tournament.  They’ve won it since but I don’t think anything will compare to when ended the drought.  I just remember driving through the streets of Vancouver and the city had an energy that didn’t return until the city hosted the Olympics in 2010.

  1. What does sport represent to you?

It’s changed over time.  When I was younger it was all about winning and making it to the next level.  Now that I’m 28, I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be playing in the NHL anytime soon.  I now see sport more as a fun way to stay in shape and make new friends.  For the most part, I don’t care too much about the final score, it’s just about the experience.

In a broader sense, I see sport as a venue to foster unity both within and between communities.  There are very few events outside of sports that will see an entire country sit down together and watch.  I particularly enjoy watching international sports for that reason.

  1. What aspect of playing sports in a cross-cultural setting excites you?

Travelling the world has been my favorite thing to do since I took my first solo trip to Kenya more than ten years ago.  Unfortunately, I had to choose between travelling and the sports I loved (hockey and box lacrosse) as I simply couldn’t be there for a full season.  I chose travelling but wherever I got the opportunity I played hockey along the way.  This included games on Australia’s Bondi Beach, hotel ice rinks in Nairobi Kenya, shopping mall arenas in Hong Kong and more.

Now that I am based in North America again, my love for combining sport and travel has grown even stronger.  Why travel and look at monuments or drink your days away in foreign bars when you can engage with locals through a common love for sport?

  1. What do you hope to achieve through your involvement in the HI Friendship League?

I hope that we can grow as an organization to offer a much broader and more inclusive event list.  For example, I would love to include a women’s hockey division in our DPRK event.  Or perhaps expand to include marathon training in the foothills of Kenya.  However, these things take time.  Right now I am very happy that our first few events are up and running and I’m very optimistic about what the future holds for us as an organization.

When I leave the HI Friendship League, I hope that I will have created genuine connections between communities around the world, and that thousands of participants will have returned to their home countries with a new perspective on life!

  1. Why did you feel that it was important to support/promote disability sports through the HI Friendship League?

My father has worked for Special Olympics BC since long before I was born.  His passion for assisting people with intellectual disabilities led me to attend and volunteer at dozens of events growing up.  The experience gave me an appreciation for the benefits of sports for people with ID and an understanding of the barriers they face to everyday life.  When we decided to organize our first ever event in Pyongyang, I immediately began to think about how we could include people with intellectual disabilities in our programs.  Through research and discussions with stakeholders we eventually managed to initiate the first (known) sports programs for individuals with ID in the DPRK.  I’m very proud of that accomplishment and I hope that we can continue to assist people with ID wherever possible in the future.

  1. Is there a future event you would like to see included in the HI Friendship League?

I’ve got no shortage of ideas for future places and sports but I do have a few ideas that are stuck in my head.  The most prominent would be to organize a football (soccer) tournament inside Chernobyl, but there are a lot of logistical hurdles that need to be overcome to make that happen.  We are also in discussions with partners to break a world record, which I’m pretty excited about.  More details will come on that soon!

  1. Is there anything else you want the world to know?

I would like people to keep an open mind about travelling the world and meetings its people.  Far too many are happy spending their vacations at resorts or some of the world’s largest tourist cities like Paris or Sydney.  I encourage people to consider travelling to those places they’ve never heard of, even if you hear quite negative things.  You would be surprised what you can learn and how your worldview can change through a little adventure.