09/25/2014 10:01 EDT | Updated 11/25/2014 05:59 EST

Thorncliffe residents raise cash for hockey rink

A neighbourhood better known for cricket bats and soccer balls came together Thursday to raise money for a hockey rink. 

Volunteers in Thorncliffe Park raised $4,000, towards a goal of $25,000, with a fundraiser that brought out hockey fans, including Toronto’s three leading mayoral candidates. 

The neighbourhood is marked by a rapidly growing and diverse population from across the Mideast, south Asia and other regions not often associated with ice sports. 

But residents want an outdoor rink. 

“Our neighbourhood has a lot of good hockey players and we think if we teach them how to play hockey properly that they may be able to join the NHL,” said 10-year-old Ayaan Mufti. 

The city gives the go-ahead for 30 to 40 natural ice rinks to be built on parkland each year, though volunteers must cover the cost of the dasher boards, storage and warming areas. They must also maintain the rinks themselves. 

Parents have cobbled together some used equipment, with help from Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, and there has been talk of other corporate donors. 

“This is just a first step,” said Abeda Parekh, the mother of two budding players. “We have all the equipment. It would be really nice to have a rink in this community. It would really benefit everyone.”