Volunteers still needed for massive sporting event

The West Kootenay will proudly host the 2011 BC Seniors Games (WKSG), but between now and Aug. 16 there’s a lot of work to do from logistical preparations to volunteer recruitment.

The West Kootenay will proudly host the 2011 BC Seniors Games (WKSG), but between now and Aug. 16 there’s a lot of work to do from logistical preparations to volunteer recruitment.

Ann Damude, the operations manager for the WKSG, said they are actively looking for volunteers — 1,500 or more will ultimately be needed — and have identified some priority areas, from hosts for each sport to courtesy car drivers and first aiders.

“It’s going to be a very exciting and interesting time,” she said. “There are some exceptional masters-level athletes coming to compete. World records, literally, will be broken during these games.”

Among the greats is Olga Kotelko, a 91-year-old Canadian athlete of Ukranian descent who started track-and-field at age 77. Now she holds 23 world records, continues to break them, and has become the subject of scientific studies that hope “to better understand how to stall the natural processes of aging,” the New York Times reported last November.

Athletes will compete in 27 sports, including several sports not in previous games. Some must be included every year, but others are optional, Damude explained.

This year will feature equestrian for the first time in five years as well as bocce ball in Trail’s Gulch.

Mountain biking will also take place on Nelson’s trails, an event that hasn’t run since Prince George in 2008.

Registration varies, and the 2011 games are scheduled at the end of summer rather than in early fall as before, so it remains to be seen how that interacts with people’s holiday plans. Nevertheless, more than 3,000 athletes are expected, more than participate in the Olympics.

“We may be the biggest provincial sporting event in BC, including the Vancouver Olympics,” Damude said.

From Rossland to the Slocan valley, every community near the tri-city hosts of Trail, Castlegar, and Nelson can also expect to see economic spin-offs, estimated at more than $2 million for the region.

“These athletes book their own accommodation, and they’re responsible for feeding themselves. There’s going to be huge economic benefits,” Damude explained.

Damude said to expect seniors to be in your community, and requested we be the good hosts for which the West Kootenay is known! More to the point, “be prepared, if you are a downtown business, this is not the time to close. It’ll be busy!”

Rossland, for example, can expect a spike in accommodations, Damude speculates, as beds in Nelson, Castlegar, and Trail fill up, and other factors such as the Waneta Dam construction continue to put pressure on the region’s accommodations.

“Mostly, we’re looking for people to consider volunteering for the games,” she said. “They can volunteer for as little as four hours. Many events are available. If they’re willing to volunteer more than that, there are jobs they can be involved in literally from right now until the games roll out.”

Prospective volunteers should visit www.2011bcseniorsgames.org where registration forms ask about interests, availability, and skills. The provincial website, www.bcseniorsgames.org, does not include registration, but does link to the 2011 site via the WKSG logo.

Paper registration forms are available at the Trail public library and at the Trail Aquatic Centre.

 

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