Even the remnants of the “Redeem Team” had to work their tails off to come up with a gold medal at the Olympics; at that tournament they were reliving their high school and college days when they were playing for the letters on their jerseys.
True Sport, as opposed to the business of their occupation as professional athletes or actors for the camera, is important and what the Olympics and the Paralympics should be all about. In a lot of cases it is; having been involved in the sport scene for four decades plus, I am now looking at the erosion of the ideals to a point where the sport that I have primarily been involved in succumb to meeting the needs of few over securing a positive growth experience for many.
Canada’s wheelchair basketball base is not growing. There are some exceptional athletes today, but there are not masses of folks coming up through the system. The national domestic development is at an all time low and the decision to toast national championships and restructure the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Finals (CWBL) to accommodate all comers who have enough money to get there shows complete disregard for municipal issues and the desperate need for an infusion of resources in grass roots development.
The new direction is supported by a yet to be produced document in line with a Sport Canada Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD) that focuses on females to age 21 and males to age 23. The fact that the direction has been taken without the input of the Conference Commissioners or individual teams in the CWBL is disrespectful to the people working in the various municipalities across the country to grow the game at all levels; people who have been involved growing super stars in addition to meeting the needs of others at the recreational level, competitive level, and elite level!
Canada needs to rediscover what got the country on the wheelchair basketball map in the first place. They need to celebrate what, as Rick Hansen would say, Difference Makers have done for the sport and grow more of them to replace or reenergize the Stan Stronge’s, Gary McPherson’s, Michael Bryce’s, Bruce Russel’s of the world. People who know it is important to grow on and off the court and to make a contribution to the team, the organization, and the community in which they live!
From their website, the True Sport Foundation is a national charitable organization that promotes values-driven sport. As a leader in the True Sport Movement, the Foundation is focused on building and enriching communities and the lives of individuals by providing a safe, welcoming, and a rewarding environment for all participants, at all levels of sport. The True Sport Foundation is committed to ensuring that sport makes a positive contribution to Canadian society, to our athletes and to the physical and moral development of Canada's youth. The Foundation also plays a pivotal role in the Canadian sport system by bringing together leading sport organizations to promote, celebrate, and recognize sporting excellence. Their activities range from Incubating Innovation, Framing sport as a public asset, Fund operations, and Celebrating values-driven sport.
Canada’s men’s and women’s teams had everything they needed to be #1 in London this summer, but I think the organization needs to refocus on the resources spent growing the game, recognize, and support all involved, young and old, as they are the next generation!
More at www.Truesport.ca.
Reg McClellan #4