After years of build up, the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games got underway on Friday morning with four soccer matches.
The Saskatchewan female team got the day event started with a 1-1 draw against Manitoba, while the Saskatchewan boys lost 3-1 to Manitoba in front of a large crowd at Irwin Field.
Meanwhile, the rest of the organizers, volunteers, and athletes were gearing up for the Opening Ceremonies on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Innovation Credit Union iplex.
“This is the biggest event to ever come to the Southwest. That’s something overwhelming when you start thinking about it. But we knew that our community wants big events here. We know our community always steps up when asked to be volunteers, to be sponsors, and to be part of something so much bigger,” said Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault.
The organizers have been pushing hard to reach their goal of 2,000 volunteers and recently passed the 1,600 mark.
“We are making some fantastic progress on our volunteers,” said Melissa Shaw, co-chair of the WCSG. “There’s still a few shifts that we’re looking to fill. The volunteers have been fantastic and we feel bad asking them to do more. There’s just a few last minute shifts that we need covered. However, I have no doubt that the Southwest is going to step up and that it’s going to be covered and that it’s going to be a successful Games.”
Mayor Denis Perrault said it still doesn’t feel real that Swift Current was hosting the Games.
“It seems like yesterday when we brought this to fruition and made a decision and a conscious effort to be able to go after these Games. It’s absolutely humbling for myself in this role. I had the good fortune of asking Melissa and Mark to come on these roles a couple of years ago. They have absolutely exceeded all of my expectations as have all of the volunteers, everyone in the Southwest has just steeped up. It’s absolutely incredible. I am forever grateful for everybody that’s working so hard to bring this dream to a reality. It still doesn’t seem real. It’s a pinch me moment this afternoon.”
“It was really exciting,” added co-chair, Mark Benesh of seeing the Games get underway. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this and doing a lot of legwork… Then they played today, which was an awesome thing, and moved things along and then it’s real. It’s what it’s about. All of us have been a part of tournaments and other things, this is just bigger and has many facets that many of those other circumstances don’t. That’s been the challenge of pulling everything together. But we’ve got just an outstanding Board supporting us, who have expertise in these areas. There’s still things that come up. We’re still chasing volunteers and will continue to, because we have just certain areas that aren’t at that full level of compliment. We’re there and we’re close just because we want to ensure the best Games experience for both volunteers, athletes, coaches, officials, everyone involved, and also spectators. We want our community to enjoy the Games and be a part of it.