Photo: Brenden Bissett (right) works his way around a U.S. player during a match between Canada the U.S. on July 7, 2016 (Photo: Blair Shier)
Canada’s men’s field hockey team is only days away from writing another chapter in its storied Olympic history.
When the Canadian men step on to the field against Germany on Saturday in the teams’ opening match of the 2016 Olympic Games, it will be the seventh time Canada’s Men’s National Team will have competed at an Olympics.
And as the team continues a tradition which has seen it compete in every other games since the first time in 1964 – or every other Games, on average – there will be another legacy being extended along the way.
Brenden Bissett is set to become an Olympian for the first time in Rio – but it won’t be the first time a Bissett plays hockey at the Olympics.
Brenden’s uncle David Bissett is a former captain of Canada’s Men’s National Team, who competed at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
“I think he’s the main reason we got into field hockey and that my family is such a field hockey family right now,” Brenden says of his uncle’s influence. “My brothers and my sister were inspired to play by my uncle and the fact that he did go to two Olympic Games and play field hockey for so long.”
Not only was the senior Bissett’s story an inspiration, but his involvement in Brenden early field hockey career was a big influence.
“Growing up he was a big factor in helping me develop my skills,” says the 23 year-old native of New Westminster, British Columbia. “For a while there he was living in Vernon (British Columbia) and he would fly down and coach my Under-12 Vancouver Hawks team. So he has been really committed.”
David is not surprised that Brenden has had success in the sport and has been able to follow in his footsteps. Seeing the youngest of three field hockey brothers grow up, he knew that the skills was there for a career in field hockey like himself.
“The things with him I was always impressed with,” David explains. “In small spaces, he is extremely good. That’s a tough skill.”
David was 22 when he first competed in an Olympic Games and Brenden is just a year older as he becomes an Olympian for the first time. And with his nephew set to make good on his Olympic dream, the elder Bissett offers up some advice …. From his experiences on the world’s biggest sporting stage.
“Try and live in the moment, soak it up,” David says. “Just stay focused on the matter at hand, which is to do the best that he can on the field and not to leave anything on the field.”
When Brenden does step on the field in Rio, he will be continuing a family tradition, and making many people – including David – proud.
“I’m thrilled that he’s on the team, I’m thrilled the team made it to the Olympics, and I’m thrilled to be able to go down there and watch him play.”
And Brenden knows there is a good chance none of it would have happened if it was not for his uncle’s influence.
“I give him credit for giving me that Olympic dream at an early age. I’ve held to that for a long time.
Canada opens the 2016 Olympic Games on Saturday, August 6 against Germany at 2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET. Catch all the Olympic action at cbc.ca/olympics.