First published in the Lethbridge Herald Wednesday, July 22, 2020
It feels a lot like the movie Groundhog Day as we begin the 1-year-countdown to the 2021 Alberta Summer Games, previously known as the 2020 Alberta Summer Games.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, sport events near and far have been cancelled or postponed. The Lethbridge Alberta Summer Games have been postponed until July 22 to 25, 2021 should Alberta have a successful relaunch.
All venues for the Games have been booked. The over 75 planning volunteers are taking a well-deserved summer break. The Games executive is keeping a watchful eye as we move through the Alberta relaunch plan.
Host communities in Alberta are no stranger to overcoming major challenges while organizing multi-sport games. The floods in 2013 and the fires in 2016 each preceded the 2014 Banff/Canmore Games and the 2018 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Games.
The Lethbridge organizing committee received encouraging and inspiring letters from the Chairs of both the 2014 and 2018 Games. They spoke about the power of celebration and the positive impact it can have on community spirit, especially during adversity.
Getting back to the Groundhog Day movie, the following article was first published in the Lethbridge Herald last July.
In 365 days, Lethbridge will host the Alberta Summer Games, a 4-day multi-sport festival, with over 3000 athletes aged 11 to 17, coaches, managers, and officials, competing in 14 sports from canoe/kayak and BMX cycling to lacrosse and softball.
In 366 days, Tokyo Japan, 8,146 km from Lethbridge, will be welcoming over 11,000 athletes competing in 33 sports for 17 days for the Olympic Games.
Hosting any multi-sport Games is a massive and rewarding undertaking.
The 2021 Alberta Summer Games journey began in 2017 when Lethbridge Sport Council submitted the bid package to the Alberta Sport Connection. Lethbridge was awarded the Games in the winter of 2018. A local not-for-profit was formed to plan the Games. Since then, over 75 planning volunteers have been recruited who will be involved in all aspects leading up to the Games. About 2,000 on-site volunteers are involved during the Games themselves.
So, why bid on major sport events in the first place?
Facility development? Lethbridge has constructed sport facilities for previous multi-sport events. Some minor improvements are required for the 2021 Games.
A positive effect on local sport organizations? When local sport groups were approached about hosting the Games, there was an overwhelming sense of excitement. There was no question that this would be beneficial for our local sport organizations.
“We are looking to recruit more girls to lacrosse with the goal of having an all girls team”, said Lethbridge Lacrosse Association President Heather Misek.
Head coach of Zephyrs Triathlon Team and President of Southern Alberta Multisport Society Danny Robdrup said, “We would like to spread the word that there are several variations of triathlon to make it appealing to more people, including a combination of any two of the triathlon disciplines, running, cycling, and swimming.”
Deb Marek, Games Co-Director of Sport said, “Over the next year Lethbridge will experience an increase in community coach and technical official mentoring and training.”
Diana Sim, former executive director of Volunteer Lethbridge said, “Benefits of volunteering at major sport events include rewards both for the volunteer and for the community. Volunteers make new friends, works with new people, and learns new skills all while contributing to a community event. The community benefits include an increased volunteer base which can lend itself to a stronger social structure.” A legacy of volunteerism is a meaningful element of event hosting.
The opening ceremonies of the 2021 Alberta Summer Games are scheduled to be held at the ENMAX Centre on July 22, 2021.
For more local sport information visit www.lethbridgesportcouncil.ca
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Posted July 22, 2020