First published in the Lethbridge Herald Tuesday, July 23, 2019.
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 2020 Alberta Summer Games journey began in 2017 when the 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 is one reason. Lethbridge has constructed sport facilities for previous multi-sport events. Some minor improvements are required for the 2020 Games.
A positive effect on local sport organizations is another key driver. When local sport groups were approached about hosting the 2020 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, 2020 Games Director of Sports said, “Over the next year Lethbridge will experience an increase in community coach and technical official mentoring and training.”
Diana Sim 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.
Throughout the year, Lethbridge Sport Council will publish articles about each of the 14 sports included in the 2020 Alberta Summer Games showcasing local programs, people and places. For more local sport information visit www.lethbridgesportcouncil.ca