Amateur sport bouncing back from pandemic through new funding

Government is providing $4 million in post-pandemic recovery funding to reignite the amateur sport sector by rebuilding sport membership and bolstering volunteerism.

“We know how challenging this pandemic has been on sports organizations throughout BC,” said Melanie Mark, Hli Haykwhl Ẃii Xsgaak, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “Sport has the power to heal people, to bring communities together and create connections, while promoting health and well-being. As we return to normal, we need sports more than ever. Over the past two years, British Columbia’s amateur sports sector has lost many participants, volunteers, advocates and community champions. Volunteers are the backbone of the sports community, and sports simply cannot exist without players. We hope that this Rally Together grant inspires people of all ages to get back in the game.”

In BC, 85% of provincial sport organizations are reporting a decline in volunteers and membership with a recorded drop in participants from more than 800,000 in 2018-19, to approximately 500,000 in 2020-21.

The Rally Together fund is being provided to viaSport British Columbia, which will administer two separate grants on behalf of the Province and will ensure BC’s amateur sport sector continues to provide opportunities and programs for all British Columbians. The first $2-million program focuses on kick-starting sports by rebuilding membership in provincial and disability sports organizations. This fund will support initiatives that focus on recruiting participants of all ages, and offering more inclusive and accessible program options. The second $2-million program will support the recruitment, retention and training of volunteers, such as coaches or referees, event coordinators and equipment managers who are critical to the success of many clubs.

Rebuilding sport membership and volunteerism are top priorities for viaSport. Sport leaders from across the province have told us that they need support to continue delivering safe, welcoming and inclusive sport programs,” said Charlene Krepiakevich, CEO, viaSport British Columbia. “At viaSport British Columbia we are thrilled to steward this significant investment from the Province of BC that will be instrumental in creating a more resilient sport sector.”

Non-profit provincial, disability and multi-sport organizations that are accredited, recognized, or affiliated with viaSport BC and their local member sports organizations are eligible to apply. These organizations offer activities such as rugby, snowboarding, boxing, wheelchair basketball and more. This funding will help reignite amateur sport in BC as the sector continues to provide opportunities and programs for British Columbians, to make sure people of all ages can play the sport they choose in their community.

“Sport BC knows the power of sport,” said Rob Newman, president and CEO, Sport BC. “We know that sport builds belonging, communities, friendships, leaders, healthy kids, connection and resilience. Through its absence, we learned that sport is critically important to a thriving province. Working hard to support our 73 member organizations throughout and beyond the pandemic, I know the sport relief fund will significantly support amateur sport, specifically in helping participants and volunteers find their way back to sport.”

Individual grants will range from $5,000 to $15,000 for local organizations, and $15,000 to $35,000 for provincial organizations. Grants will be determined based on needs, impact and scope of projects. Examples of eligible projects include programs that promote accessibility and inclusion or with purposeful outreach to under-represented populations, and initiatives that attract volunteers through subsidized training or development opportunities. The grant intake will run from Sept. 24 to Nov. 4, 2022.

Learn more:

For more information about eligibility and application, visit the viaSport website: https://www.viasport.ca/grants

For a complete list of Provincial and Disability Sport Organizations in BC, visit: https://www.viasport.ca/partners/pso-and-dso

To find out about other StrongerBC COVID-19 related recovery initiatives in BC, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/

To find out about the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport’s 2022 service plan, which includes several goals and objectives related to post-pandemic recovery, visit: https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2022/sp /pdf/ministry/tacs.pdf

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