55 Plus Games


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2 MANITOBA 55+ GAMES presented by Playnow.com CATCH SELKIRK'S 2020 VISION… Get in the Games! BY TODD LEW YS ■ The 2020 Manitoba 55+ Games are again being presented by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries under its PlayNow.com brand. Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries has been involved with the event for more than a decade. "We are committed to supporting the community we live and work in and the events our customers and Manitobans care about," says Diana Soroka, Director of Communications and Engagement for Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. "We're very proud to be presenting sponsor," she says. "It's an amazing event. We're pleased to once again support active aging and the communities that show such great commitment in hosting the Games." PlayNow.com is Manitoba's own online gaming website. PlayNow. com is owned and operated by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. Revenues generated by Liquor & Lotteries (which includes PlayNow. com) stay in Manitoba to support government services and programs in health care, education, social services and infrastructure. This year, Selkirk will host the 55+ Games for the second time, June 16-18. The community previously hosted in 2001. The town's proximity to Winnipeg — it's about a half-hour drive from the city — should boost participation and awareness of the annual event, says Karyn Heidrick, who oversees the 55+ Games for Active Aging Manitoba. "Typically, we get about 800 to 1,000 participants," she says. "But with the Games being so much closer in Selkirk, and this being a qualifier for the Canada 55+ Games, we're expecting there will be about 1,500 participants. We're also expecting more spectators, as well." Heidrick says Selkirk is the perfect location for the Games, which were first held in the province in 1983. "The people in Selkirk view the Games as a big event," Heidrick says. "It represents a chance for them to really showcase their community." To date, the people of Selkirk have embraced the opportunity to host the Games. "They kicked off promotion of the Games with a rally at the Gordon Howard Centre on Oct. 9, where they signed up 150 volunteers in one night," she reports, adding the volunteer count currently stands at 250 and climbing. "They also had a float in their Christmas parade. Everyone is very excited about hosting the Games." High-quality facilities won't be in short supply in Selkirk. "The venues for events are going to be great," says Heidrick. "The rec complex is ready to go, as is the ice curling rink. There's even a brand- new church where the gym will be used to host card playing events and pickleball. I think everyone's going to be happy with the facilities, from the competitors to the spectators." As many spectators will witness firsthand, both the level of competition and intensity will be high. "The intensity level is quite high in sports like pickleball and softball," she says. "Even with cards, many of those in their 80s still have an edge to them when they compete. People will see all levels of competitive spirit at the Games because every participant still loves to compete." Soroka — who has attended past 55+ Games — agrees, noting the overall competition level is surprisingly good. "I've always been struck by the wide range of ages of competitors — individuals from age 55 up into their 80s compete in a wide range of events," she says. "They take it seriously and compete hard. They prove that if you stay engaged, you can remain active and healthy well beyond your mid-50s." Heidrick encouragers Winnipeggers and other Manitobans to come to Selkirk to investigate the Games. "If they do, I think they'll be inspired by what they see," she says. "You don't have to be an athlete or be in the best shape of your life to compete. You just need to stay engaged. Do that, and you can stay competitive and lead a vibrant, active life from your 50s into your 80s." ENGAGING THE GAMES BY GEOFF KIRBYSON ■ There will be countless medals awarded at the Manitoba 55+ Games presented by PlayNow. com in Selkirk in June but the participation ribbons will be just as important to the organizers. The multi-sport event will run from June 16-18 and will feature more than 1,500 athletes and participants facing off in about two dozen sports and activities, including cycling, badminton, pickleball, track, swimming, golf, slo-pitch, bocce and bowling, both the lawn and five-pin versions. There will also be several other events where heart rates won't be pumping quite as quickly, including snooker, horseshoes, shuffleboard, arts & crafts, scrabble, bridge and cribbage. "The goal of Active Aging in Manitoba is participation," Deborah Vitt, co-chair of Selkirk's Manitoba 55+ Games presented by PlayNow.com, says of the Winnipeg- based organization that puts them on. "There is competition but the official line is 'to enhance the quality of our lives as we continue to age.' Active doesn't only mean the ability to be physical. It also includes social, cultural, spiritual and civic-minded. If you have physical limitations, there are other ways for you to participate." The Games will actually kick off March 24 with the three-day curling competition because of difficulties in running the ice in June (not to mention the fact that curling season would be done for the year by then). But just because the majority of Games participants aren't due for another three months doesn't mean the curlers will get shortchanged on their experience. "It will just be on a smaller scale. We'll have the opening ceremony for them, including a bagpiper. There will be lots of spectators. Selkirk is a curling city," she said. No event can succeed without involving the community and the Manitoba 55+ Games presented by PlayNow.com is doing just that, having already signed up more than 250 volunteers as well as having recruited a number of high-profile sponsors, including presenting sponsor PlayNow.com, Steelcity Physiotherapy and Wellness Centre — which just may get a little business over the weekend — plus Telus Communications and RBC. Sure there will be competition but these Games are really about showing age is nothing more than a number. Vitt knows that from personal experience after being recruited to play in the cribbage tournament last year in Swan River. Her opponent was Jean Davis, who had recently celebrated her 97th birthday. "She beat me. The place was packed and she won silver. I saw her at the banquet the next night and she was wearing her medal," Vitt said. "The Games aren't only about if you can run the bases or dive for a ball. People enjoy a game. Their minds are engaged and they're having a good laugh." Vitt has no doubt Selkirk will do an excellent job as the host city, as it has hosted or co-hosted a number of major sporting events in the past. They include the 2016 provincial men's curling Viterra Championship, the Western Canada Summer Games in 2003, the 2007 Women's World Ice Hockey Championships and the Telus Cup (the national midget boys' hockey championship) in 2009. She hasn't done an in-depth analysis of what kind of economic impact the Manitoba 55+ Games presented by PlayNow.com will have on Selkirk but some back-of-the- napkin math shows it will be significant. If every one of the 1,500 participants has one person come to watch them on each of the three days, that would mean a total of 3,000 people descending on the city each day, or a total of 9,000. If each person spent $100 at hotels, bars and restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores — which wouldn't be hard to do — that would mean a minimum of $900,000 pumped into the local economy. Bump that individual spending up by a few bucks and the economic impact will hit seven-figures. "We're going to have all of these people coming to Selkirk and the surrounding area, plus their supporters. The vibe in town is going to be fantastic," she said. For more information about the Manitoba 55+ Games presented by PlayNow.com, visit activeagingmb.ca.

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