Team Ontario seeking athletes for NAIG 2014 before March 31 deadline
A participant during the 2008 Native American Indigenous Games.
Aboriginal Team Ontario is seeking young athletes to register for the the upcoming North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) set to take place July 20-27 in Regina, Sask.
Scott Haines, Team Ontario’s track and field head coach for the games, said they are seeking Indigenous athletes aged between 13-19 to register before the March 31 deadline.
Athletes do not need to have tried out before registering. Tryouts can continue until early June, when teams must submit their final rosters.
Registrants can be a member of a Nishnawbe-Aski Nation or Treaty 3 community that lives on or off-reserve.
“They need to get on the radar and let our organization know they are interested,” said Haines, who is also sits on the board of directors for the Aboriginal Sports and Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO), the sports body that represents Team Ontario.
Athletes can register for 15 different sports, including archery, athletics (track and field), badminton, baseball, basketball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, volley and wrestling.
There are two sports where Haines said the team has been having difficulty gaining athletes: canoeing and rifle shooting.
“And I know kids in the north can canoe and I know they can shoot a rifle,” he said.
Haines said athletes can find out about doing tryouts once they register.
“For some athletes they can submit some of their performances, especially if they competed in the provincial sport system, like high school sports,” Haines said, noting some of the past athletes had competed at the OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) tournaments.
Haines said by registering, athletes also put themselves on the map in sports within Ontario.
“We’ll be in a position to be able to tell some of the kids here where they’re at,” he said. “It’s not only about the Games, but to be connected to the only Aboriginal sports body in Ontario, ASWCO.”
The seven-day event will showcase unity, sport, culture, youth, volunteerism and team work between First Nations, Metis and non-Indigenous communities, according to the NAIG 2014 website. The theme of the Regina 2014 North American Indigenous Games is “Raising the Bar.”
In addition to the sports competitions, the Games will celebrate and share North American Aboriginal cultures through a showcase of language, tradition, art, song, dance and ceremonies.
Haines said athletes should be excited for the upcoming event.
“We’re staying in the University of Regina, which is very exciting because it’ll be the hub of the events, the cultural centre,” he said.
It is the first time time the Games are taking place since 2008, when nearly 600 athletes, coaches and chaperones represented Team Ontario at the Games in Cowichan Valley, B.C. Team Ontario as a whole placed second overall at that event, with a total of 145 medals, 48 gold, 55 silver and 42 bronze.
More information about Aboriginal Team Ontario can be found at www.aswco.com, their Facebook page, or Twitter@OntNAIG
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