Mark your calendar, sports enthusiasts: Sept. 17 is the day to get out there and play. Building on last year’s inaugural Sports Day in Canada, this year’s edition promises to be an even greater national celebration of sport, from grassroots to highperformance levels, in communities across the country.
Supported and presented by CBC Sports, Sports Radio-Canada, ParticipACTION and True Sport and guided by a committee of national sporting organizations and networks of coaches, athletes and enthusiasts across the country, Sports Day is a chance for everyone to celebrate sport and its contribution to society. In many communities, top amateur and professional athletes will be making special appearances at Sports Day in Canada events in communities across the country.
”Many amateur and professional athletes, several of whom are Olympians and Paralympians training for 2012, will be involved in Sports Day in Canada,” says Kelly Murumets, president and CEO of ParticipACTION. “They certainly inspire me, and I know they will inspire others to get involved in celebrating sport this September in communities across Canada.”
One of the dedicated athletes is Ontario Olympic high jumper Nicole Forrester, a seventime Canadian champion currently training for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Last year she participated in Sports Day events in Kingston, Ont., and this year will be part of Sports Day as a Team Visa athlete. “It’s a great initiative and I plan to do it forever,” says Ms. Forrester, the country’s reigning high jumper. “I’m really passionate about the value of sports in Canada. I’ve been a Team Visa athlete for many years, and having Visa also partner this year with Sports Day makes it a little more special.”
Visa, a sponsor of this year’s Sports Day in Canada, has sponsored the Olympic Games for 25 years, providing marketing exposure and long-term financial and emotional support to Team Visa athletes as they pursue their dreams of competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Team Visa members are selected for the program because of their dedication to sport and investment in their communities.
Leading up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Visa will support more than 50 individual athletes and national teams from more than 20 countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil and the United Kingdom.
Another Team Visa member, Nova Scotia-based threetime Olympic kayaker Karen Furneaux, will be participating in the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay in Halifax the day before. ”I’m really passionate about helping bringing awareness to people – especially kids – about the benefits of sport and being active. It’s always something that I jump at – the opportunity to be involved.”
She and her husband have even started a company to promote being active called I Promise Performance Inc., which works with individuals, companies, and athletes to design and implement health and well-being programs.
The national day of sport celebration will be highlighted by an inspiring six-hour television broadcast on CBC Sports and a three-hour television broadcast on Sports Radio-Canada profiling events that embody the Sports Day experience. It will share the stories, passion and power of amateur sport with Canadians. The Sports Day in Canada broadcast will explore a central theme that will be developed across a variety of elements including a series of stories, live hits to the sports in play, interviews with key personalities and engaging panel discussions.
In the week leading up to, and including, Sports Day, thousands of organizations across Canada will open their doors to celebrate sport at the local level and create excitement for the annual event. Across the country, sport organizations and providers will hold a blitz of Sports Day in Canada events, with festivals, parties, open houses, games, competitions, meet-and-greets, try-it days, tournaments, fun runs, spectator events and pep rallies that celebrate sport at all levels. Organizations can create something new or throw open their doors to something they’re already doing – and invite Canadians to join them.
”Sport has a huge role to play in turning around Canada’s physical inactivity crisis, as it provides so many direct and indirect benefits including camaraderie, mentorship and health improvement,” Ms. Murumets says. “Sports Day in Canada goes beyond celebrating sport; it celebrates Canadians who have embraced sport for life.”
Canadians like to think of themselves as a nation of sports fans, but research shows that sport participation is on the decline. Over the past two decades, sport participation rates in Canadian youth aged 15 to 18 dropped from 77% to 59 % and in adults, from 45% to 28%. More than half of adults are considered inactive, and only 7% of youth are active enough to meet Canada’s physical activity guidelines. Only 3% of people with physical disabilities are involved in sport.
”Sports Day in Canada embodies and celebrates the very things the Government of Canada strives to promote: The encouragement of Canadians to participate actively in sport from playground to podium, as well as support for our Canadian athletes in their rise to the top of the world stage,” says Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). “As a key supporter of Sports Day in Canada, the government of Canada recognizes that encouraging sport participation leads to active, healthy communities.”