Bringing young people back to sport is critical as restrictions begin to lift in Canada
Getting young people involved in sport again should be a priority for Canada as COVID-19 restrictions continue to be lifted, says Olympic speed skating gold medalist Catriona Le May Doan.
The Saskatoon native, who will be Team Canada’s chef de mission at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games, also called for more funding for youth sports at the ‘Sport Outlook’ roundtable. for young people in Canada ”hosted by Andi Petrillo of CBC Sports on Tuesday.
“Many sports organizations have closed or fear they will not survive until 2021,” Le May Doan said. “So the financial part is definitely the number one concern. And how we will reintroduce young people to sport. “
The Olympic and world champion mentioned a recent national study conducted by the Canada Games Council (CJC) which showed that one in three young Canadians do not know if they will return to the sport after the lifting of restrictions related to COVID -19.
Ensuring that children and teens continue to exercise should be a key and necessary aspect of the return to normalcy that all Canadians expect to see soon, as it benefits far more than the body, he said. she declared.
“Sport brings us the physical side, the mental side which is now more important than ever, and the social side, which has been taken away from us. People are isolated, people are alone.
“We need that social connection and we need sport to be a priority,” said Le May Doan, who became the first Canadian athlete to successfully defend an individual Olympic gold medal by winning the event. 500m speed skating at the 2002 Olympics.
The May Doan was joined by Team Canada hockey player Laura Stacey, TeamSnap founder Dave DuPont, The Hoop Factory founder Vidal Massiah and Colleen Grimes, Ontario Lacrosse Association board member.
“You just need to start”
For Stacey, a forward for Canada’s National Women’s Ice Hockey Team, allowing children to embrace the “friendships and connectedness” that sport brings is the best way to bring them back.
“Many children have lost [on that], even us as professional athletes, and in order to be able to get that back, you just have to start, ”said Stacey.
This return is not without its concerns, however.
“One of the greatest [concerns] that I have personally heard from parents, “said Grimes,” is that children with means have always played during the pandemic. “
Grimes says families who can afford it have found private sessions and training camps, sometimes even in the United States, to keep their kids playing sports.
To ensure that the opportunities are there for everyone once youth sports are back in full swing, marginalized groups should be a central part of the plan for the future, Grimes says.
“In Canada, diversity is our strength, we all share a love for sport, and physical activity must be the power that builds those bridges.”
A necessary change of perception
Massiah called for the pandemic to become a turning point in the way youth coaches are viewed.
“We are building confidence, we are building the competitive nature and we have to start to understand that,” Massiah said. “Teachers have a new appreciation after the pandemic, and youth coaches must be equally elated.
“The work we do is priceless, we often lead the way for young people. What we do is not just community, it is national work. We are building the future leaders of our country.”
The return of youth sport has started, slowly
New study from TeamSnap shows youth sporting events across Canada at 52% from May and June 2019. Data indicates a slow return to pre-COVID-19 levels in all provinces, baseball and soccer with the most events scheduled.
“We are updating the return to sport information by state or province and by individual sport,” said DuPont. “So we can tell you that football in Canada or Calgary is back X percent, where hockey in Ontario is back Y percent. It’s useful because organizations can see where they stack up against others. “