Thursday, 31 May 2018 09:19

Mission conference for 2019 Western Canada Summer Games takes place in Swift Current

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Delegates from the provinces and territories stand together for a group photo during the M1 – Mission Conference in Swift Current, May 24. Delegates from the provinces and territories stand together for a group photo during the M1 – Mission Conference in Swift Current, May 24. Matthew Liebenberg

Delegates from the provinces and territories had their first opportunity to have a look at the city where the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games (WCSG) will take place.


The 2019 Games Committee hosted the M1 – Mission Conference in Swift Current on May 23 and 24.
The conference was attended by the chef de mission or head of each province or territory and their delegates from Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon.
They were able to learn more about the preparations for the 2019 WCSG and they had an opportunity to tour the sport and cultural venues that will be used for the games.
According to Melissa Shaw, the co-chair of the  2019 WCSG board of directors, it was an opportunity to share information with the delegates and to receive feedback.
“It’s nice to be able to share where our plans are at, to get their feedback to make sure that we’re heading in the right direction,” she said. “Every day we continue to get into deeper levels of detail. So now that we’re getting into that detail levels to have that confirmation that we’re in the right direction has definitely been a very satisfying few days for us.”
Yukon Chef de Mission Trevor Twardochleb felt the size of the city will be a benefit to the athletes during the games.
“The one thing that I like about Swift Current is that things are relatively close together,” he said. “So that really makes a big difference when the athletes don't have to travel so far to their venues.”
Jerry George, the chef de mission for Alberta, also felt Swift Current is the perfect size for this kind of games.
“You get more of that hometown crowd,” he said. “It adds even more excitement when the community is behind you that just wants to come out and be part of the experience. ... You're going to come into this community and everybody is going to know the Western Canada Summer Games are happening.”
He was impressed with the facilities that will be used for the different sport events during the games and their close proximity to one another, which will make it easy for people to get around.
“We didn't see one facility that I would say that the athletes aren't going to be really excited about that facility,” he said. “I think we saw some really great facilities that athletes are going to be excited to compete at.”
Manitoba Chef de Mission Pat Kirby agreed the venues in Swift Current were impressive for the size of the city.
“All the boxes are checked off in terms of what a host society needs to be doing and what the athletes, coaches, managers are expecting,” he said.
He has been involved with a number of provincial and Western Canada Summer Games since 1989 and he noted that the games will have a significant impact on the host community.
“Your going to see a huge growth in volunteerism, and just the whole pride in your community putting on an event that will show all the athletes, coaches, managers and visitors that are coming to Swift Current to what you can actually do and take pride in all the things that take place,” he said.
Mark Bracken, the chef de mission for Team Saskatchewan, is looking forward to the games in Swift Current.
“It's always exciting to be the chef of the green team that will compete in our home province here in Swift Current,” he said. “So we're excited about competing in front of the home town crowd and having the local athletes from Saskatchewan compete against the rest of the west and northern territories.”
He was impressed with the planning work that has already been done by the host community for the games.
“The leadership of the staff team, the leadership of the volunteer champions in the community is great,” he said. “Talking to my colleagues across the west everyone seems very pleased with the planning to date and we're excited. Fourteen months to go and we'll all be here.”
Darin Banadyga is the chairperson of the Western Canada Games Council and the representative of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport. The provincial government will contribute $1.5 million towards the hosting of the games in Swift Current.
He mentioned that the mission staff from the different provinces and territories have a lot of experience. They have been to other games before and they can therefore share their knowledge with the host community during the mission conference.
“So certainly the experience of all those different mission staff from those different provinces and territories had helped the host committee to get some really good feedback on how to improve,” he said. “They've got a great plan already, but how do you make some small improvements to it to really make it a great experience for the athletes and the visitors that will come here next summer.”
The games will take place from Aug. 9-18, 2019 at venues in Swift Current and surrounding area. The event will be attended by 1,700 athletes, coaches, officials and mission staff during the 10 days of competition. The athletes village will be located at Irwin School and Swift Current Comprehensive High School.
Most of the sport venues are in Swift Current, but canoe and kayak will be at Lac Pelletier, triathlon will be at Saskatchewan Landing and the road cycling will be in the Hazlet and Wymark area. There will be test events for some of the sports before the games.
“We’re going to have some test events starting this summer,” Shaw said. “The main reason for it is they’re sports that aren’t familiar to Swift Current. So not only do we want to test the sport, but we want to start testing our venues to make sure that our set-ups are accurate for what we’re going to need, our volunteer requirements are accurate for what we’re going to need and even the equipment that we’re bringing in to make sure that it meets the needs of this area.”
The open water swim test event will take place at Saskatchewan Landing on July 15. The triathlon test event will be at Saskatchewan Landing on Aug. 5. The cycling test event will be on Aug. 18 and 19, with a road race in the Hazlet area and criterium and time trial events in Swift Current. The test event for canoe, kayak and rowing will be in September at Lac Pelletier.
“I’m hoping for a beach volleyball tournament yet this summer, and then next spring we’ll be doing our mountain bike course once it is fully developed and ready to go,” she said. “So hoping people come out and help and watch and learn.”
Shaw said there has already been a good response in the community to the announcement that the 2019 WCSG will be hosted by Swift Current.
“Swift Current is such an awesome community,” she noted. “They’re always welcoming to new events, welcoming to volunteering. We’re getting lots of people involved in the committee planning level as well as now we’re starting to get more people on the subcommittees and starting to get into that. So the closer we get, I expect the excitement to just continue growing.”
There will be a need for even more volunteers as the games gets closer and the preparations are made for the event.
“We’re doing volunteers right now for the planning committees and then later this fall, early winter we’ll start doing the general call for volunteers,” she said. “In total we’ll be looking at about 2,000 volunteers and that will be all the way from the board level to the general ticket taker. So we’re going to need the whole community and not just the community but all of southwest Saskatchewan to really step up and help out with this event.”
The hosting of a successful games also requires the involvement of sponsors and there has been a positive response from businesses.
“There’s lots of interest in sponsorship,” she said. “Our sponsorship and marketing team is out there and they’re having lots of great conversations. We have secured some sponsorships to date and we’re hoping to continue building that momentum, especially as the games get closer.”
The mission conference was used as the launch event for the 2019 WCSG merchandise, which went on sale on May 23.
The merchandise is available for sale at the Tourism Swift Current visitor centre inside the Swift Current Museum.
For more information about the 2019 WCSG, visit the games website at www.2019wcsg.ca

Read 430 times Last modified on Thursday, 31 May 2018 16:02
Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer

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