Ferdi Nelissen has been involved in women's hockey for nearly 25 years and is being recognized for his contributions. The long-time member of the Portage Minor Hockey Association and Central Plains Capitals was awarded the Western Order of Merit from Hockey Canada for 2022.

This award is handed out to a member of the hockey community who has contributed immensely to the game. Nelissen started out with the MacGregor and Portage Minor Hockey Associations in 1998 and moved on to become the head coach of the Central Plains Capitals from 2007 to 2019.

In 2015, he achieved his biggest feat as a coach, capturing the provincial championship and moving on to the Esso Cup, which is the national women's U18 championship. 

What Nelissen takes the most pride in, is the number of girls who have moved on to the next level from the Central Plains program, and continue to do so, with him now taking more of a behind-the-scenes role with the club. 

Nelissen started the Central Plains Showcase tournament 11 years ago in Portage to get more eyes on the high-level female athletes. He believes they've been quite successful in doing that.

Hockey Manitoba says Nelissen's unlimited enthusiasm for the game has made him a pillar in the Manitoba sporting community and an icon for the women's game in the province.