Most athletes will tell you their talent can carry them only so far in their careers and sometimes a little extra help might be just what is needed to push them over the top.
For many Central Alberta athletes the Red Deer Games Foundation has been there to give that hand up.
Started in 1975 as a result of a donation from the Summer Games the Foundation continues to help young athletes reach great heights with additional funds coming from the 1988 Alberta Winter Games and 2006 Alberta Summer Games.
Some recipients include speed skater Jeremy Wotherspoon, freestyle skier Deidre Dionne and cross country skier Drew Goldsack and this year more names of elite athletes will be added to the list as the deadline to apply for assistance comes up Dec. 4th.
“It is open to all athletes and some of the benchmarks are if you’re on a team sport you should be representing team Alberta or higher,” said Mike Klass, with Alberta Sport Development Centre. “If you’re in an individual sport you should be competing at the provincial level or higher.”
As we head toward another Olympic games the plight of the amateur athlete and funding is in the spotlight but the Foundation shines another light on the issues surrounding funding for training for those provincial athletes who are trying to get to the next level.
“We know elite sport costs a great deal of money but they’re not in the position necessarily to receive carded funding (national level athletes) and so in this case a little bit of money here and there helps out.”
Athletes who qualify can expect funding to cover things such as special coaching, training and equipment along with costs associated with sports clinics or attending competitions.
The range of sports from where these athletes come from is wide including volleyball, curling, paddling and speed skating for example and Klass said they generally get between 20 to 25 applications during the call out for assistance which happens once in the spring and again in late fall.
Klass said this is a time when parents or coaches of an athlete will want to really brag about the young man or woman who’s applying for financial assistance and then a committee will go over the applications before making decisions.
“There is always lots of great deliberation because there are a lot of great applications and athletes out in our community that many people have never heard of because of the size of their sport or what level they’re competing at,” he said.