Wednesday, 17 January 2018 14:51

Countdown is on for the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games in Swift Current

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The 2019 WCSG mascots Tansi and Ravi were unveiled at the launch event, Jan. 16. Mark Benesh and Melissa Shaw are nearby. The 2019 WCSG mascots Tansi and Ravi were unveiled at the launch event, Jan. 16. Mark Benesh and Melissa Shaw are nearby.

The countdown to the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games (WCSG) in Swift Current has started after the official games launch in the city, Jan. 16.


The launch event at the Innovation Credit Union iPlex raised the curtain on the planning that has already taken place during the past year and highlighted the work that is still ahead to ensure a memorable games experience for athletes and spectators.
Mark Benesh, the co-chair of the 2019 WCSG board of directors, said the planning for the event is on track.
“We have some time lines that we’ve set up based on other games, and we are on pace,” he mentioned. “We’ve built our team. We still need some work in developing our rollout of our committees and so we are excited and we’ve been waiting for this day, because really we’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes and it’s our opportunity to share with Swift Current and the southwest really that this is coming and we have opportunity for a lot of people to become involved and we’re really excited for the city and area.”
The board of directors, which is co-chaired by Benesh and Melissa Shaw, had their first meeting in April 2017. Since then four WCSG staff members have been appointed as well as the sport chairs who are leading the planning for each sport competition. The WCSG office is located at the Dickson Community Centre in Swift Current.
“Our mission is to create a memorable games experience that leaves a sports and human legacy for southwest Saskatchewan,” Shaw said. “Our vision is to inspire excellence in sports, community, relationships, team work and volunteerism, and our values are community, integrity, fun, quality and respect.”
Over 1,700 athletes between the ages of 13 and 20 years as well as some older Para and Special Olympics athletes from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon will participate in the event from Aug. 9-18, 2019.
The event takes place every four years and this will be the fifth time that Saskatchewan will host the WCSG since the inaugural event in 1975. Previous host communities in Saskatchewan were Prince Albert in 1999, Regina in 1975 and 1987, and Saskatoon in 1979.
The event will have a significant impact on the local economy and it will also have numerous other benefits.
“Over the course of the 10-day event, it’s estimated that $2 million will be injected into our communities and local businesses,” Benesh said. “This is in addition to the investment directed into preparing for the games during the two years prior.”
The community will benefit from upgrades to various facilities that will be used for the games. For example, the tennis courts in Swift Current will be upgraded, new beach volleyball courts are under development, and a mountain bike course will be created.
He believes the hosting of the WCSG in southwest Saskatchewan will help to create an interest in the different sports activities that will be part of the event.
“The opportunity for kids in the southwest communities to see and being inspired by young athletes in these various sporting activities up close will create a legacy for our community and these sports for years to come,” he said.
Aleah Nickel, a Grade 11 student at Swift Current Comprehensive High School, spoke at the games launch about the importance of such multi-sport events for athletes. She started wrestling at age seven, and won medals at the 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games, 2015 WCSG in Fort McMurray, and 2017 Canada Summer Games, and she has also represented Canada at international events in Peru and Japan.
“The Western Canada Games is such a great stepping stone for all young athletes to be able to get a great desire to push themselves,” she said.
She won silver at the 2015 WCSG and it was an important step to reach her personal goal to compete at the Olympics.
“It was such a positive event in my life and it really helped me grow and have a great passion for my sport,” she said. “The Western Canada Games also helped build my confidence so that I was good enough to compete wherever I went.”
She felt it will be a real benefit for Saskatchewan athletes to compete in their home province when they come to Swift Current for the 2019 WCSG.
“It will be great for the Saskatchewan athletes and especially the Swift Current and southwest athletes competing in the games to have it close to home and in the province, because as they compete in their sport they’ll be able to have friends and family come out to support them and watch them, which can help them to push themselves to do their greatest,” she said.
Denise Barbier, the games manager for the 2019 WCSG, referred to another important legacy that the event will have for southwest Saskatchewan.
“We will expand the training and the skills of people in our area as officials,” she said. “We will be training local minor officials so that we have them qualifying at higher levels, to be able to officiate at higher level tournaments, and also our volunteers will get the ability to learn and work in different areas and expand those skills and connections.”
Barbier has a lot of experience from previous involvement with event planning for multi-sport games, including the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, as well as the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, Turin, and Vancouver. Since moving to Swift Current in 2006 she has been actively involved with events in the city and she coordinated the Rick Hansen 25th anniversary relay community celebration.
“There’s a lot of work,” she said. “We need to recruit over 2,000 volunteers. We’re a small staff based organization and so we’re relying on volunteers to help with a lot of the planning and the vision for these games.”
She believes the people who are involved with an event is the key thing that will make any multi-sport games a success.
“It’s their passion for their community, that spirit of pulling together and being proud of where they come from and wanting to share that with the visitors that come,” she said. “Every games that I’ve been part of, the thing that really stands out, is not the difficulties with logistics. It’s the people that you meet and the people that you get to interact with.”
Over 70 volunteers are already actively involved with the planning for the 2019 WCSG. Many of them are focusing on the details for the 16 different sports that will be played at the games. Most of the sports venues will be in Swift Current, but activities such as cycling, canoe/kayak, rowing, and triathlon will take place at other locations in southwest Saskatchewan.
At the moment there is a need for leadership volunteers to assist in specific areas such as advertising, photography and volunteer recruitment. The recruitment of volunteers for various roles during the games will start in the fall. Barbier hopes to see support from businesses for the 2019 WCSG.
“A major theme for this next year is investment,” she said. “We are asking local, provincial and national companies to invest their sponsorship dollars into this remarkable event. Sponsoring the Olympic Games is something that a few companies can achieve. However, financially supporting the Western Canada Games and athletes like Aleah to have that Olympic type experience for not only the athletes but also our community members is highly achievable for many companies here.”
Updates and information about the games are available on the 2019 WCSG website at www.2019wcsg.ca and on their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Read 464 times Last modified on Thursday, 18 January 2018 06:03
Matthew Liebenberg

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