They’ve put together an eclectic team.

When the community of 100 Mile House assembled their first partner table as part of the Physical Literacy for Communities (PL4C) initiative, it began with a trio of basketball coaches, a representative of the local soccer association, two members of a toddler play program, and an elementary school teacher. Soon to join their ranks are an athletic director of a provincial sport organization, two principals, a former mayor and even a pastor.

“I’m trying to get tentacles going in every direction. One goal we’re actively trying to get the ball rolling on is creating a basketball association, so that’s something we talked about at the partner table. We’ve got a board set up, a name we’re going to submit, and we’re looking to be incorporated by Basketball BC by September 2023,” said TJ Grabowiecki, sports discovery coordinator for Engage Sport North.

“We have a large group of youth and older guys in 100 Mile House who are interested in basketball, and what we’ve heard is that basketball is the strongest it’s been in 30 years – and the most participation we’ve seen in 50.”

Basketball is only the beginning for the PL4C partner table in 100 Mile House, which has a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities but a lack of appropriate facilities. Right now scheduling is a complex issue for many participants, because of the limited gym space, and children interested in swimming have to drive over 100 kilometres to visit the pools in Kamloops and Williams Lake. That’s something they’d like to change.

“Everyone’s vying for gym time and that’s a problem as I see it. There’s a lot of overlap causing friction. My goal through Engage Sport North and through our basketball association is to create a grassroots basketball program, and we’re interested in other sports too, like rugby and maybe volleyball.”

And now that the basketball program is already on its second eight-week run, people in the community are starting to realize the possibilities – and are getting creative with their solutions. The partner table has lofty goals for the community that reach beyond sport to all physical activities that would benefit the populace. Their work will be custom-designed to suit 100 Mile House and to build on its strengths.

“We have a lot of the amenities in the area. We have Mount Timothy that’s nearby, cross-country skiing and outdoor activities like that. But lots of families drive out of town to Williams Lake because they have a Winners and a Walmart,” he said.

“There are a ton of lakes too, and they used to do swimming lessons through the Red Cross which right now isn’t happening. So we’d like to get that up and running again. Building a pool might be a bit far-fetched, but there would be huge pluses for the community like job creation – the forestry industry won’t last forever and we need to think about long-term and sustainable projects.”

The partner table has only met once so far, but Grabowiecki believes the next meeting will be productive.

“My hope is that after the next meeting we will have something more put together, more meat and potatoes, so we can go to the council and say ‘this is the temperature of the community and this is what people are needing in this area’,” he said.

“In the community, we’re definitely picking up traction, so I’ve got people coming up to me saying things like ‘somebody wants to start a girl’s softball team, can they come to you?’ which is exactly what we want.”

Engage Sport North’s PL4C program coordinator Mandie Cote has seen firsthand some of the difficulties the community is having around overlapping gym space, and the conflict that arises from that, but is optimistic that the partner table can reach its milestones. In the case of a local basketball program that was offered recently, Engage Sport North was able to cover the funding gap necessary to make it run.

“We stepped in and paid the difference, because the registration fees just weren’t going to cover it. And now that we’ve begun to create the basketball LSO and it’s getting geared up, other LSOs like volleyball and soccer want our help too. Even Williams Lake, which is 45 minutes away, they reached out,” said Cote.

“So one great thing that’s come of this so far is that word is out: we’re here to help when it comes to youth sport programming. I think this partner table has had a positive impact on the youth. I think the community has seen that things are possible when you partner with the right people, and things can get done. You just need the right volunteers and the right relationships.”

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