In 1975, Lethbridge hosted the Canada Winter Games and our community has benefited from its legacies ever since. It might be hard to imagine how an event that happened 42 years ago could possibly matter now. The obvious benefit at the time was the economic impact that hosting a large scale multi-sport event provides. Athletes, coaches and spectators came from across the country, and were welcomed by over 4000 volunteers in 12 communities that all contributed to a successful Games. The lasting legacy we all see on a regular basis, and hopefully many of you visit regularly for concerts, sporting events or the many other events hosted there, is the Sportsplex, which is a legacy facility that was built for those games in 1975. Today we know the Sportsplex as the ENMAX Centre, and while it has undergone a recent major renovation, it's still the facility that has its roots in the Canada Games. Other benefits may have been a little more subtle. In the process of hosting the 1975 Canada Games, and every single time we host a successful event since then, we build a reputation as a community. A reputation that tells the rest of the province, and the country, that we do a great job hosting events. We have top-notch facilities, but even more than that, we have top- notch volunteers who welcome visitors and make the events we host great!
The final, and perhaps the most important impact the Games can have on a community is the effect it can have on athletes. Over the years, hundreds of Lethbridge athletes have participated in the Canada Games in cities across the country. Those athletes trained hard to get to the games, and no matter the outcome, you can be sure that the experience of the Games stuck with them through their lives. One thing that struck my looking through the pages and pages of Canada Games Alumni, is how many of the names I recognized. A few have gone on to compete at the Olympic level, many are coaches passing on their passion for their sport to young athletes, many work in sport, and several names I recognize because they are parents now, and their kids participate is sport.
Today, the Lethbridge leg of the Canada Games Flag Relay and Community Celebration is being held at City Hall at 11:00 am. As part of a unique 50th anniversary, the Canada Games flag is travelling across Canada celebrating each of the past Host Communities. Its ultimate destination will be the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg on July 28th.
So what's the first step on the road to the Canada Games? The first step for many is to find what sport you are passionate about. For some that is easy, but others might need to try many different sports before they find 'the one'. In fact research has shown, that the more sports a child is exposed to, the better all-round athlete they will be when they find their chosen sport.
If you or your child need a little help finding out what options there are in Lethbridge, or would like to give some new things a try, the Lethbridge Sport Council can help. Lethbridge 2017: Get Active Through Sport is an initiate from the Lethbridge Sport Council, where families, groups, teams and individuals can sign up for #YQLChallenge, which encourages participants to do 150 activities from a list that has been developed especially for Lethbridge! Anyone can sign up to try 52 sports in 52 weeks at the sport sessions we organize. You can also find and attend sport events you’ve never seen before and CHEER ON by checking our sport event calendar, or be part of our Volunteer Hour Tracker to lend a hand to a sport event or organization! We invite you to register online - recruit friends, involve your family, teammates or co-workers - and engage on social media using #Lethbridge2017. Full details can be found at www.lethbridge2017.ca
Want to know a little more about the Canada Games?
Held once every two years, alternating between winter and summer, the Canada Games represent the highest level of national competition for up-and-coming Canadian athletes.
The Games have been hosted in every province at least once since their inception in Quebec City during Canada’s Centennial in 1967. The Games are proud of their contribution to Canada’s sport development system in addition to their lasting legacy of sport facilities, community pride and national unity.
The 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg are the 50th anniversary of the Canada Games and will be held from July 28th to August 13th, 2017.
The 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer will be held from February 15th to March 3rd, 2019.
The organization of the Canada Games is made possible thanks to the contribution and support of the Government of Canada, provincial/territorial governments, host municipalities and the Canada Games Council.
- Tanya Whipple
Originally published in the Lethbridge Herald on March 17th, 2017
Athletes Coaching Competitive Elite Facilities Lethbridge Sport Tourism
Posted March 17, 2017