An innovative multisport program that began in Antigonish seven years ago has first spread across the province of Nova Scotia and now the rest of the country, with offerings in both English and French. Its young participants rotate through nine different sports offered by numerous community stakeholders, giving them the opportunity to develop the skills and confidence necessary to reap the positive benefits of a quality first sport experience.
“There are so many benefits to a program like this. Research shows that multisport is the way to go, especially at young ages, and this program allows kids to choose what they like and then move ahead with those sports. I’ve had two kids go through this program, so I’ve seen it firsthand. After their six sessions, they really feel like they’re a hockey player or they can play badminton or whichever sport it is,” said Gina MacInnis, the Highland Regional Sport Consultant with Sport Nova Scotia.
“This program empowers the kids to feel like they have the skill set before they move on to the next sport, so if they choose to continue with that sport, they have the skills to do so.”
The nine sports offered by the original program are soccer, baseball/softball, hockey, gymnastics, swimming, track and field, taekwondo, basketball and badminton. The participants are kindergarten and Grade 1 students. Using that as a prototype, 17 similar programs have been introduced with slightly different age categories and sport offerings throughout Nova Scotia. Other municipalities and organizations across the country have expressed interest in starting their own as well.
“It’s a fair bit of work initially, in terms of coming up with a schedule that works for everyone and figuring out exactly what the program is going to look like. You have to reach out to organizations with a similar mindset and see if they’re willing to coach a number of sessions outside their general programming,” said MacInnis.
“Then you have to get everyone around the table to plan the program collectively.”
She said the program is popular not only with administrators, but also coaches.
“We have a lot of coaches who say it’s their favourite thing to coach. A lot of the time with typical sport programs they spend a lot of time on administration, parent communication, ordering T-shirts and everything else that comes with the job, but with how this is set up the coaches just need to come in and deliver the sport.”
To learn more visit Antigonish Multisport on Facebook.