Dozens of Indigenous youth took part in a brand new initiative by the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and the Saskatoon Tribal Council on Sunday.
The Youth Leadership Through Sports program aims to give athletic training opportunities to 70 kids from surrounding First Nations communities.
“They’re learning things that they don’t get to experience back home on their First Nations communities because they don’t have the infrastructure. They don’t have the opportunities,” Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand said.
From physical testing and conditioning to nutrition and skill development, the students will learn what it takes to become successful athletes. The athletes, ranging in age from 10 to 14, are encouraged to reach new sporting goals while becoming role models in their communities.
Randall-Dre Friday, 13, is from Fishing Lake. His goal is to sharpen his skills for the school’s basketball team.
“It helps you to do better in sports,” Friday said. “Tryouts were yesterday and I made the team.”
“It develops leaders and their future aspiration in what they want to do. Working together on a team is very instrumental to becoming a team player in the work force and everything they do in life,” Arcand explained.
Arcand said the goal is to expand the program to operate every two months.
Huskie Athletics and kinesiology students from the U of S help run the program.
“It meant recruiting kids from communities for the very first time for such a program, putting together the program from scratch and really building something that’s going to show results for these kids,” said Chad London, the dean of the College of Kinesiology at the U of S.