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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Young Indigenous Athletes Get Expert Training To Take Home
by Ashleigh Mattern - CBC News
Youth Leadership Through Sports program gives kids a chance to improve their skills
Cole Currie, 11, says he wants to apply for sports scholarships.
(photo by Alicia Bridges/CBC)

Cole Currie, 11, wants to be a professional lacrosse player when he grows up.

He said he was inspired by the Thompson brothers (Lyle, Miles, Jerome, and Jeremy), four brothers who all play in the National Lacrosse League.

Currie, who is from Mistawasis First Nation and lives in Blaine Lake, was in Saskatoon on Sunday to participate in the Youth Leadership Through Sports program.

Kids at the Youth Leadershp Through Sports Program run a "beep" test - a multi-stage fitness test that includes running.
(photo by Alicia Bridges/CBC)

The program offers kids between the ages of 10 and 14 sport testing, strength and conditioning exercises, and sport nutrition education.

Currie said he hopes the program will help him in lacrosse and basketball.

"I just really want to get better at the sports I play because that's what I want to do with my life," he said.

Speed, agility, endurance and power

About 70 boys and girls attended the first day of the new program, coming from seven different First Nations communities.

Hosted by the College of Kinesiology, Huskie Athletics and the University of Saskatchewan, the activities took place at the Physical Activity Complex.

The day's activities included testing speed, agility, endurance and power; giving them information about nutrition for sport; and winding up with a yoga session for recovery.

University of Saskatchewan kinesiology students and Huskie athletes led the training.

A young athlete performs a test to see how high he can jump. The kids who participated on Sunday will be coming back throughout the year to record their improvement.
(photo by Alicia Bridges/CBC)

Mark Arcand, Saskatoon Tribal Council chief, said the program is an opportunity to get kids from First Nations communities to visit the University of Saskatchewan and to use the state-of-the-art sports facilities there.

"Our goal here for today is to see how we can get actually some kids into university scholarships, because as First Nations children, we have some good talent — it's just fostering that talent."

Building on natural talent

He said there is a lot of talent in First Nations communities — many athletes participate in Saskatchewan's Tony Cote First Nations Summer/Winter Games and the North American Indigenous Games.

But few young people from these communities go on to get post-secondary sports scholarships.

With this program, he hopes they can build on that raw talent.

He also hopes that the kids participating in the program will go back to their communities and teach their peers what they've learned.

Looking to the future

All of the kids went home with a backpack full of sports equipment they can use at home, like a skipping rope and resistance band.

Many of the communities they're going home to lack infrastructure and facilities, Arcand said, so the activities they're learning are designed to be done anywhere.

This is a one-year pilot program. The kids will be invited to attend more skills days throughout the year to track their progress, and will build upon previous sessions.

Arcand would like to see the program expand to different age groups, and said he's already heard interest from older teens.

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