Investing in our community

Funtastic Sports Society clarifies some issues and makes a pitch for community sports

In response to Gabe Siska’s letter to the editor in The Morning Star.

There was a reference to, “another half-dozen more ball fields because Funtastic is getting more popular.” He is correct that Funtastic is popular and continues to sell out each year. However, the Funtastic Sports Society is at capacity and has not requested additional ball diamonds be constructed.

While the society does support sport and recreation facilities and has done so to the tune of more than $1 million in financial support in the past 20 years, we would prefer to see a long-term facility plan that meets the needs of our community today and in the future. In addition, the society supports all sport and recreation activities in the community, not just slo-pitch or ball fields.

In the past four years, the Funtastic Sports Society has provided $100,000 in funding to 29 different not-for-profit organizations to support their sport and recreation initiatives. We will be providing an additional $29,000 through the 2013 Funtastic community grant program to support local non-profit organizations.

It is much deeper than dollars though. The Funtastic Sports Society believes that sports and recreation is not a luxury. Sports and recreation is not about winning and should not be lobbied. It’s about helping to build stronger, healthier, happier, and safer communities.

We recognize there needs to be consideration to the investment of facilities and a measurable return on the investment for our community, specifically residents. We also believe there needs to be transparency as part of this long-term strategy. Residents need to be comfortable that their tax dollars are being invested for the betterment of the community. We also recognize the need for an unbiased, accurate assessment of the facilities we currently own and what the facility landscape will need to look like in the future.

Communities across B.C., Canada and the world recognize the contribution sports and recreation makes to the building of community pride, and the value of recreation in community health, including the additional benefits these activities bring to society.

Do we?

Sports and recreation has long been part of the fabric of communities. When you take a look around our wonderful beaches and waterways, our parks, centres and sport fields, it is obvious sport and recreation is a passion. From cycling, jogging or walking our high-quality recreational trails, playing football in the schoolyard, sports binds and builds communities, empowers, inspires and motivates individuals, provides work-life balance and helps shape our community character.

Sports and recreation play an important role in society and contributes to our lives in many ways we often don’t realize; the not-so-obvious benefits that sports and recreation provides. Investing in sports and recreation helps to build communities through social inclusion and a sense of connection. Sports and recreation helps to bind families through shared experiences and shared achievements.

Through participation, sports helps address anti-social behaviour and can support education. We see examples of this every day through the amazing volunteer work at the community sport level. Participation in sports helps young residents of our community gain confidence, learn respect and teamwork; attributes they will be able to take with them as they enter the workforce.

Sports contributes to economic growth through business investment and employment. The annual Funtastic Summer Festival alone generates more than $4.5 million in direct economic benefit to our business community.

As for the investment, if you consider a typical Canadian 10-year-old growing today, there is a two-in-five chance he or she doesn’t take part in any sport and recreation at all. By age 10, that child may be one of the 37 per cent in their group who does not get 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

Major sporting events and competitions also generate employment, infrastructure investment and attract thousands of visitors to the region every year. To attract business investment, sports and recreation is vital as companies place a significant emphasis when considering a location for their employees.

Investment in sports facilities can bolster a community’s perception of their area, restoring pride in their region and improving future social and economic possibilities. Cities use major sporting events to redefine their image, promote urban development and fund economic growth and regeneration. Take for instance, Kamloops with a very strong brand as Tournament Capital of Canada. The economic and social impact for Kamloops has been phenomenal and continues to be.

The Funtastic Sports Society is a strong advocate of sports and recreation in our community. As per our constitution, we do support the building of new sports and reaction facilities; replacing outdated or inefficient facilities.

Society is ultimately poorer without sports and recreational activities, yet their true value is perhaps not fully recognized, appreciated or understood. Picture our region without sports and recreation. How strong would our sense of community be? What would our health be like? What would our environment look like? What would we do for enjoyment, to challenge ourselves, to excel, to achieve?

Sports and recreation does matter to all of us.

It is something that can play a key role in developing and sustaining the community in which we live. Rather than looking at it as just a cost, let’s look at it as an investment in our people, our community, our youth, our health and in general, our long-term viability.

It is an activity for all and one that benefits all.

Jim McEwan,

Executive Director

Funtastic Sports Society