Adults left out of games
Keewatin regional games focus on youth

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 13/97) - Athletes across the Keewatin are gearing up for Arctic Winter Games regional trials, but organizers expect fewer adults in the games this year.

The regional trials, to be held in November and December, are geared more for youth and have placed restrictions on the number of players who are older than 19.

"The emphasis is switching from adults to youths," said Rick Denison, Rankin Inlet's recreation co-ordinator.

There is a move away from open competition in all areas except Arctic sports. Women's hockey, however, is permitted to have four players per team older than 19.

Denison said the region is following a trend across the North to restrict senior athletes in the Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife in 1998.

While he can understand the reasons behind the emphasis on youth, Denison said that it may present some problems in small communities where there are few athletes and adults help keep a sport going.

"I understand where they're coming from -- they're directed by the international committee," he said. "The one possible drawback is that a lot of teams have older youths and adults playing on them."

Denison is also concerned that restricting adult involvement may deter them from volunteering as coaches if they can't play the sport.

"We don't want them to lose their interest or involvement. (We could) possibly loose them as coaches and loose that resource."

But Tommy Bruce, regional co-ordinator for the trials, doesn't agree. He said adults are in a better position to raise funding. He denies there's a danger in loosing needed players or interest waning in certain sports.

"I think if they're willing to volunteer their time to coach, they won't change their mind if they can't play," he said.

Guy Dudding, Sport North administrative officer for Nunavut, said that the decision to restrict age is an effort to cap the number of athletes competing. The decision was made at the meeting of Minsters during the 1996 Arctic Winter Games in Alaska.

"I guess the theory behind it is ... because of Nunavut, they're afraid the games are getting too big," he said. "It came out of Alaska to cap the games at under 1600 athletes."