In her role as the CEO and President for Sport Calgary, Catriona Le May Doan has seen first-hand the impact that the COVID-19 has had on community sports organizations.
“Local sport often falls through the cracks as a lot of clubs don’t fall under the provincial or national organizations, so community sports councils like Sport Calgary serve as the voice and advocates for them,” Le May Doan said.
“The pandemic has hit those organizations extremely hard, as most of them don’t qualify for the most of the federal or provincial funding that has been given out over the last year.”
During the fall, the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities launched an $8 million Sport Relief Fund to help organizations across the country, which resulted in over 1,000 applications for the grant.
As a result of that demand, Jumpstart announced last week that the Canadian Tire Corporation was committing an additional $12 million to the Sport Relief Fund.
“I think there’s a huge sigh of relief for local sports organizations that they have the chance to apply for the funding as they try to work through the pandemic and the challenges that are presented by it,” Le May Doan said. “We’re going to need those local clubs as sports are going to be huge in our recovery from the pandemic in every community.”
Le May Doan, who was born in Saskatoon and is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in speed skating, says that many of the issues that local organizations have to do with the costs of running their associations or clubs.
“Some clubs own a facility and are having a hard time paying the bills, while other sports organizations don’t own a facility and they can’t find anywhere to rent or if they can, they aren’t able to afford it,” Le May Doan said.
“Most organizations have also lost finances from a lack of registration fees, along with not being able to do fundraisers like they normally would. As a result, they are having a hard time getting coaches, certifications and volunteers.”
Canadian Tire Corporation also announced that they are committing to raise $20 million for Jumpstart over the next year, which will be used for a variety of initiatives, such as creating inclusive and accessible play spaces across the country.
“Some families might not be comfortable in joining an organization right away after the pandemic subsides, so getting our youth back outside and playing is extremely important, especially for those with physical or intellectual disabilities as they’ve been hard by the pandemic,” Le May Doan said.
Organizations that are interested in applying for the Jumpstart Sports Relief Fund can do so online at jumpstart.canadiantire.ca