Athletes take NAIG cancellation in stride
- | May 15, 2020
Hundreds of youth athletes from Saskatchewan are forced to cancel their trip to Halifax, N.S. this summer.
The Coronavirus pandemic has put events on pause across the globe, including this summer's North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). The event was scheduled to take place July 12-18.
“I think there was less disappointment than I had anticipated,” said Mike Tanton, Chef de Mission for NAIG Team Sask. “Because of the effect that this pandemic is having on everybody, I think it was something that a lot of [people] had expected to happen. Bringing over 5000 athletes together just wasn’t going to happen.”
Due to the current travel and gathering restrictions in place NAIG has been canceled until 2021.
“Our biggest concern was that you will have athletes that age out...We didn’t want to have our athletes that were eighteen, nineteen-years-old who would be too old the following year not be able to participate. So, we expressed our concerns... [Now] athletes that would have aged out are still going to be able to compete,” he said.
“The excitement was building,” said Mike Vancoughnett, NAIG coach for the men’s lacrosse team. “We were only a few weeks away from going. We are relieved that we are just going to be postponing it for another year [and] we will be keeping the intact team.”
All NAIG events in Saskatchewan have been cancelled during the pandemic including all training and coaching events.
“We’ve been kind of in a holding pattern to see if we can salvage some of our lacrosse season. Even if we have a condensed season, that would be really good, just to make sure that our players are still active and still practicing,” Vancoughnett said.
Athletes are encouraged to continue training at home while social distancing.
“We partnered with Craven Sports Services,” said Tanton. “They’re going to start online training classes and workshops ... As well, we’re going to send the athletes some resistance bands and some workout hardcopies that they can do at home during this time.”
The cancelation has not had a significant financial impact on Team Sask. Tanton says they will continue to reach out to sponsors for next year’s games and to mitigate any cost they may incur with another year of training.
“All of our sponsors have continued to be supportive and are wanting to be involved for next year. There are groups that are looking out for us,” he said.
Tanton wants to encourage athletes to persevere during these times and remain optimistic.
“We’re very resilient people. We’ve dealt with a lot of different things in our history and we continue to come back stronger. When these issues arise and they come and they twist our lifestyles, we just continue to adjust and continue to get stronger, better, faster. I think if the [athletes] continue to find ways to do that, they’re going to come out better than when things started.”
Updated NAIG information can be found at teamsasknaig.ca and on their Facebook page.