Amateur sport bouncing back from pandemic through new funding

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:54 PDT, Fri September 23, 2022

Last Updated: 12:31 PDT, Tue October 11, 2022

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 sport organizations throughout B.C.," 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 sport sector has lost many participants, volunteers, advocates, and community champions. Volunteers are the backbone of the sport 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 B.C., 85 per cent 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 B.C.'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 sport 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 co-ordinators, 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, chief executive officer of viaSport British Columbia. "At viaSport British Columbia we are thrilled to steward this significant investment from the Province of B.C. 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 sport 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 B.C. 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 chief executive officer of 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.

For more information about eligibility and application, visit the viaSport website

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