TORONTO — NHL superstar Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, along with Alexander Steen of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Andrew Ference of the Calgary Flames, joined the athlete-driven international humanitarian organization Right To Play as Athlete Ambassadors.

“Sport is the biggest part of my life. It has allowed me to meet different people from various cultures and background and has greatly enriched my life,” said Ovechkin, winner of the 2006 Calder Trophy and a First-Team NHL All-Star. “I believe sport brings people together and allows them to feel united for a common goal. Sport is important for children, especially from disadvantaged places, to bring up their self esteem. I am joining Right To Play because it is an organization that works to spread the power of sport to kids who need it most."

Right To Play is pleased to announce that 2006 Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks, as well as Washington forward Matt Pettinger, have also signed on as Athlete Ambassadors.

The addition of these athletes builds on Right To Play’s success at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, where high-profile donations from gold medalist speedskaters Joey Cheek (USA) and Clara Hughes (Canada) spurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from individuals and corporations across North America. The new NHL Athlete Ambassadors will join more than 280 Athlete Ambassadors world-wide who raise awareness and boost the profile of Right To Play’s Sport For Development work in support of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world.

“High profile athletes are role models to children as well as entire nations. When they speak publicly on the important role sport can play in child and community development, people listen,” said Johann Olav Koss, Right To Play President and CEO.  “Right To Play is excited to have these outstanding NHLers on board as Athlete Ambassadors, and we look forward to the support and leadership they will bring to our organization for many years to come.”

Prior to these NHL players joining Right To Play, Wayne Gretzky was the only NHL-affiliated Right To Play Athlete Ambassador. Gretzky serves as Honorary Chair of Right To Play’s Canadian Advisory Board.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of charity events and good causes, and Right To Play is one of the greatest causes I’ve ever seen,” Gretzky said. “I am thrilled to be a part of it, and I’m very pleased that these NHL stars have agreed to lend their names to help children in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. As professional athletes, it’s important to be able to give back using the power of sport.”


Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, right, Andrew Ference of the Calgary Flames, middle, and Alexander Steen of the Toronto Maple Leafs share a laugh before joining the athlete-driven international humanitarian organization Right To Play as athlete ambassadors on Tuesday, Sept 5, 2006 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.                                 
(AP PHOTO/CP, Nathan Denette)

About Right To Play
With International Headquarters in Toronto, Canada, Right To Play operates sport and play programs for children and youth in 24 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Right To Play is committed to improving the lives of these children and to strengthening their communities by translating the best practices of sport and play into opportunities to promote development, health and peace. Right To Play’s guiding principles are inclusion, which recognizes the importance of children who may be marginalized for reasons of gender, religion, ability, ethnicity, disability or social background; and sustainability, which ensures our programs have a lasting impact.

Right To Play is led by four-time Olympic gold medalist Johann Olav Koss and supported by an international team of Olympic, Paralympic and professional athletes who generously donate their time to give back through sport. Athlete Ambassadors include Wayne Gretzky, Dikembe Mutombo, Anni Friesinger, Ian Thorpe, Lance Armstrong, Silken Laumann and many more. Right To Play believes that when children play, the world wins. For more information please visit www.righttoplay.com.



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