An umbrella organization that supports 60-plus sports groups in Central Alberta received a $75,000 grant for 2022 from the City of Red Deer.
It wasn’t the three-year funding commitment Central Sport officials had requested but contracted CEO Scott Robinson said he’s very pleased that city council approved a grant for this year — with an option to reapply again for 2023 and ‘24.
“It’s great news for Central Sport as it allows us to move forward and add some staffing… There’s lots of initiatives we’d like to get going on,” Robinson added.
The organization is a legacy project from Red Deer hosting the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Robinson said most cities Red Deer’s size and larger have an umbrella group comparable to this one, which connects various sports groups in their communities.
Central Sport was formed in 2020 to support the needs of everything from local soccer, swimming and softball teams, to cricket, pickleball — and even Quidditch, if that local group is still active.
“We are an over-arching organization,” said Robinson.
Central Sport was formed to help develop whatever sports area residents are playing, he added. As there are a lot of new Canadians in the community, “we are seeing sports like cricket now…”
City of Red Deer administration had recommended that Central Sport’s funding request be denied because it comes outside of the time when the city council considers big budgetary items.
But Robinson is glad the majority of councillors opted to grant the requested funding for 2022 on Monday. He said everything was stalled because of the pandemic, and there weren’t many previous chances to come before city council.
The $75,000 will allow Central Sport to begin on various initiatives — including working with local sports groups to determine how accessibility can be improved for all Central Albertans, including people with disabilities.
As well, the organization wants to help groups to develop a volunteer pool to help at their special events and functions.
And “we are also working on a project where we’re reviewing how we can support these groups to bring more sports events to Central Alberta,” said Robinson. “We want to know what is what do these groups need, in terms of resources and support?”
While Central Sport will be applying for more municipal funding in 2023 and ‘24, the idea is to become more sustainable over the longer term, balancing out city grants with more business and sports sponsorships, said Robinson. “It will take us a few years to get there.”