In the waning days of September, the Canso and Area Minor Hockey Association had good news to share with the approximately 75 children and youth registered for the upcoming hockey season. Applications to the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Sport Relief Fund were approved, paving the way for more programs and ice time for association members this year.
Katherine Nickerson, a member-at-large for the association, told The Journal she had spent a lot of time writing out grant applications this summer and, in the middle of September, she learned those efforts would bear fruit -- on ice.
The funds – the amount will be announced at a later date – will go towards ice time, skills training and “for female hockey – which includes the different gender classification like non-binary, trans, two-spirited – to try hockey for the first time or if they’re already in the association … they can come to this free session as well and just hang out and enjoy being with each other. There’s no pressure, it’s not competitive, it’s just to have fun,” said Nickerson.
Funding for skills development goes towards ice time, equipment needed to run the skills and trainers for not only the kids but also for association coaches.
“That way, in the next few years, our coaches can do the programs themselves, they learn as well,” said Nickerson.
“We’re really excited to get this grant. We’ve been told that this is the most money that they’ve handed out in a long time,” Nickerson said, adding that funds raised for the Jumpstart program in the Antigonish locations of Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, and Mark’s all contribute to locally distributed grants.
“This shows that it does come back to our communities … It’s good to see when we support local, Antigonish Canadian Tire is the closest one, it does come back to us,” she said.
As plans for the coming season – set to begin on Oct. 23, providing the Canso and Area Arena has ice ready – are set in motion, Nickerson said, “The kids are really excited this year to get back on the ice and, hopefully, have a semi-normal season. It’s been a while since they had one; with COVID they’ve lost a lot of time. This grant is big so that the kids can get that extra ice time and keep up on their skills and have that friendship, bonding time. They can go and just be kids on the ice and not have to worry about anything else.”