Sunday, March 1, 2009

Winnipeg needs this

I'm talking about Sport Manitoba's high performance centre they wish to build. All concerns about Facadism are noted, of course. I'm not suggesting this facility be built to sacrifice historic buildings.

Rather, the benefits such a facility would provide to our amateur athletes never seems to come up, we just expect these people to somehow magically become elite. It even concerns me a little, to think that criticism for the lack of these kinds of facilities in Winnipeg rarely if ever, comes up.

The problem lies in that all high performance centres are scattered, and many times, innaccessible. For example, the University of Manitoba Max Bell Field House is where I train, however, by it's nature, it was designed for University athletes and that makes it somewhat less accessible to other, non-UofM athletes. Purchase of a pass will cost a few hundred bucks, and for running, a sport that has almost no cost attached to it, many parents wishing to get their kids into the sport may find this to be a bit much.

The article mentions other sports, such as volleyball, swimming, and soccer. I'd like to take a paragraph and emphasize that we are speaking here, mostly of young athletes, high schoolers in many cases. If other aspects of training such as weights are not available at their high school, they may have to join a public gym. And public gyms are no places for aspiring high performance athletes to train. There are no other athletes there to help them out, nevermind coaches. All these things may be, and in most cases are, innacessible.

As a result we have little athlete development here in Manitoba. You cut your chops the hard way, very little is provided to you and very little is encouraged.

At a single centralized facility, all athletes from all walks of lifes and backgrounds would converge. Hey, I'm a runner, but there's a hell of a lot I could learn from hockey players, volleyball players, and swimmers....hand-eye coordination, acute muscle development, and balance. Vice versa, there's a lot I could teach them, mechanics, the understanding of how your muscles and body react during movement and the importance that can play in efficiency and injury avoidance.

In addition to that, Sport Manitoba can offer many interdisciplinary clinics for their athletes. This is already something they do to some degree, but could be applied across all sports and available to all athletes, under one roof. For an example of this I could refer to a pro athlete (and one of my favourites), Tim Thomas, who does yoga to supplement his training.

To summarize, Sport Manitoba can take direct involvement in the development of amateur Manitoban athletes.

The fact that Sport Manitoba has chosen downtown as the location for this facility shouldn't be overlooked. That's making a statement. They really DO want to have a centralized facility. On top of that, they want to make use of a historic building. Sport Manitoba is doing everything right here, but all I read is criticism for their potential plans for a historic building.

Sport Manitoba came this far. I can at least give them the benefit of the doubt they won't resort to Facadism.

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