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Burnaby Provides Exposure to Netball

Over the Victoria Day long weekend, Burnaby once again hosted the Canadian Netball Championships at Fortius Sport & Health. It was an opportunity to showcase a sport that’s well-known in countries across the Commonwealth, but not top-of-mind in Canada. “I think we’re doing really well right now,” said Ann Willcocks, president of the BC Netball

Alberta defender attempting to block Team BC shooter Sarah Binns
Alberta defender attempting to block Team BC shooter Sarah Binns

Association. “We are really happy with the number of kids we have playing and we really feel that the only way we can grow is to get Canadian kids playing because netball is the largest sport for women in Commonwealth countries. But in Canada, it’s relatively new, because basketball is so big.” She added that getting the sport into the schools is the key to gaining more exposure.

Netball combines concepts from basketball and handball and is the most widely-played sport by women around the world with more than 20 million participants in more than 70 countries. The sport is a fast-paced passing game, using a hoop with no backboard. Players rely heavily on speed, agility, and teamwork. Two teams of seven players contest for possession of the ball, pass it and attempt to shoot for goal through 3.05-metre-high rings.

Team BC’s Megan Widmer got involved in high school in Burnaby when a friend told her about netball. “We were both playing basketball and she said it’s a sport where you don’t have to dribble. And neither one of us were good at dribbling in basketball, so I said, let’s try it out.” Since then, she’s been on the national team and has played around the world. But she appreciates the opportunity to play in Burnaby. “It’s so great to be home and having all the supporters here. Just to be home and have people come out and learn about the sport and to use this beautiful facility – it’s great to be here.”

Alberta defender contesting the ball with BC winger Danette Mui
Alberta defender contesting the ball with BC winger Danette Mui

Team Alberta vice-captain Ren Gargan said people are starting to learn more about the sport in her province. “I grew up in Australia and it’s a sport that girls play,” she said. “It’s a great social sport.” She added there are new opportunities in Alberta that invite men to play in mixed leagues.

Across the country in Quebec, the sport is also gaining more attention. Team Quebec head coach Marina Leigertwood said netball is mostly known by immigrants from other Commonwealth countries, but with summer camps for high school students and introducing it to teachers, more people are discovering netball. “We are trying our best to get exposure to the sport. We practice in schools. When people see it for the first time, they see that it’s very fast. It’s a true team sport.” She praised Fortius Sport & Health as a great venue for her sport. “We love this facility. We were here four years ago. It’s really nice because the gym is downstairs and we’re staying upstairs. It’s a central location for us.”

Team BC won both divisions: U23 and Open.

Netball is scheduled to return to Burnaby this fall with a series of three ranking games between teams from Canada and the Cayman Islands. It will be the first international netball event in the Lower Mainland.

 

Photos by: Darren Huang for the BC Netball Association

SX Easter Cup 2018 | Burnaby, B.C. Canada

Burnaby’s Hosting Experience and Great Facilities Contribute to Success of Inaugural Easter Soccer Tournament for Boys and Girls

Burnaby Sport Park was filled with more than 1,200 young soccer players during the Easter long weekend competing in the first SX Easter Invitational, presented by Sport Burnaby.

Approximately 80 boys and girls teams from the Lower Mainland, other parts of B.C. and Alberta took part in the tournament.  They competed in various categories including U10, U12, U13 and U14 (development and premier teams) over three days.

Sport Burnaby partnered with E11ven Management Inc. to deliver this tournament.

“With top facilities and local expertise, Burnaby Sport Park is a great place to host this type of tournament,” said Chris Murphy, managing director of E11even Management Inc. “Burnaby knows what we need to stage a event of this magnitude and we were happy with the outcome – providing a well-organized, professionally-managed amateur sport experience for the participants.”

He added tournament organizers, with the support of Sport Burnaby and the City of Burnaby, were able to deliver what he called a “boutique event” for everyone involved.  “Having great contacts in Burnaby who understand our goals for this type of tournament really helps,” said Murphy.

This was the first soccer tournament of its kind in Burnaby for this age group at this time of the year – a big event with so many teams all at one venue. And based on its success, organizers are looking at ways to incorporate this tournament into the spring competition calendar next year.

All games were played at Burnaby Sport Park (Field Complex West). More details about the SX Easter Invitational are available here.

Goalball Grandslam

Burnaby Hosts Top Goalball Players in an International Showcase of Paralympic Sport

In just three years, Vancouver Goalball Grand Slam has become an important tournament on the goalball completion calendar. The third edition of the tournament took place March 9-11, 2018 at Fortius Sport & Health in Burnaby. The first Grand Slam was also held in the same venue in 2016.

Organized by the Vancouver Goalball Club and presented by YVR, the tournament attracted nine top teams from B.C., Alberta, the United States, Puerto Rico and Japan. With $8,000 on the line, it’s the only international goalball tournament offering prize money to the winning teams.

For local spectators who haven’t experienced goalball, they had the chance to learn more about this Paralympic sport. “I think most people would Goalballbe surprised, it’s a tough sport,” said Ahmad Zeividavi, president of and player for the Vancouver Goalball Club.  “When they see it, they feel impressed by how intense it is.”

Zeividavi’s teammate and national team member Doug Ripley is from New Westminster was thrilled to compete at home. “It’s so nice playing here in front of family and friends. It’s really special.” He added this tournament is providing more exposure to the sport. “This is our third year of having this in the Lower Mainland. It’s growing the sport and building greater awareness of the sport. I love Burnaby. It’s very convenient.”

GoalballGoalball is played by athletes who are blind or visually impaired. The athletes compete in teams of three with the aim of scoring their ball into the opponent’s net. Teams alternate throwing the ball from one end of the court to the other, using their bodies to block the net. The ball has bells inside of it, so players can track the sound of the ball to strategize their position and movement. All athletes also wear eyeshades to allow partially sighted players to compete on an equal playing field with blind players. Goalball is the only Paralympic sport that isn’t adapted from able-bodied sport.

“It’s a good competition level, something we don’t really see in Canada normally,” said Aaron Prevost of Team Young Guns from Calgary and Edmonton as he described the tournament. “It makes us want to play better. The Americans are really good players.”

U.S. National Team Coach Matt Boyle had high praise for tournament organizers and Fortius Sport & Health, a facility which has the competition venue, accommodation and athlete services all under one roof. “During a goalball tournament, the key obstacle for blind or visually impaired athletes is transportation,” said Boyle. “When you’re able to stay in the facility you’re playing, it literally doesn’t get better than that.”

He believes this tournament has great growth potential.  “This tournament is the future. This tournament will be premier tournament for club teams in the world. It’s already almost there.”

Goalball Results:

  • Gold Medal: Omega (USA)
  • Silver Medal: Cyclones (USA)
  • Bronze Medal: Goon Squad (USA)
  • 4th Place: Vancouver Goalball Club

Additional results are available here.

Many of the players at this tournament will compete again in June at the 2018 World Goalball Championships in Malmo, Sweden.

 

 

Photos by: Dani Rudnisky, DLR Photography

Table Tennis

Burnaby is the Right Spot for Table Tennis Tournaments

15-year-old table tennis player Kenny Jiang of Burnaby had the opportunity to experience top-level competition right in his hometown as Fortius Sport & Health hosted the 2018 Butterfly Canada Cup over three days in January.

P1330715“I live about 10 minutes away,” said Jiang in between his matches. “It’s a good venue and big enough that it doesn’t feel cramped. And the hometown support here is a plus as all my friends can come to watch.”

Fifteen tables filled the gymnasium as 128 players from across Canada competed in various levels to earn points and positioning for future national and international events.  The Butterfly Canada Cup is an annual series of three table tennis events.

“By playing in one of these Canada Cup events, you can get to the next level by doing well,” said Amelia Ho, president of the BC Table Tennis Association.  With good lighting and experienced volunteers, Ho said staging table tennis competitions at Fortius is ideal.  “We get a lot of help from Sport Burnaby. The crew at Fortius is excellent. I am really happy and pleased how we can co-operate together to host.”

Ho added athletes and their families from across the country like coming to events in BC. “Burnaby is the right size for us.  This is a great place. It’s the right spot here.”

Table tennis action will return to Burnaby this summer with an even bigger even at Fortius Sport & Health – the national championships featuring at least 350 players. That completion will select athletes to compete for Canada on the international stage.

Jiang said getting to that world stage is what drew him to the sport. “I guess I was first introduced to it when I watched the 2008 Olympics,” he said. “I like it because it’s a physical sport with an important mental component. And it’s really fast.”

But table tennis isn’t only for those aspiring to be Olympians.  “Everyone can play from age four to age 100,” concluded Ho.  “It’s an accessible sport for many people.”

 

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Doing Rugby Right in Burnaby

From training players headed for Canada’s national teams to hosting games with squads from around the world, the Burnaby Lake Rugby Club is doing everything it can to draw more attention to and grow the sport.

“I would say awareness is on the rise,” according to Club president Simon Smoldon. “We have instilled a strong culture Nov 11_BLRC_actionhere by supporting our athletes and doing all we can to keep people involved.” Hosting games with international teams is an important part of the effort to promote the sport to local audiences. “We always like to host,” added Smoldon following recent Saturday afternoon game with the College Rifles, a visiting team from Auckland, New Zealand.  “We do rugby right, here, is what we say.”

Chris Tautinaga, Director of rugby for the College Rifles, called the Burnaby fields and facilities “awesome.” He appreciated the opportunity for his development team members to get more experience as they move forward in their playing careers. And, to do that in places such as Burnaby, is ideal. “It’s a beautiful setting here with the mountains behind us,” adding that many team members have never been anywhere outside of Auckland.

Nov 11_BLRC_Simon and ChrisSmoldon said “with so many other distractions,” in the urban environment of the Lower Mainland, “people can find other things to do.”  That’s why his Club is always looking for ways to keep the focus on drawing more attention to the sport.
He points to the growing interest in rugby with a large crowd of more than 29,000 fans at BC Place Stadium in early November to watch a game between New Zealand Māori and Team Canada. That game set a new attendance mark for a single rugby match in Canada.

Anyone thinking of playing with the Burnaby Lake Rugby Club is welcome to come out to practice and meet the coaches and players. Find out more at http://www.burnabylakerugby.com/ or contact Simon at simonsmoldon@gmail.com .