The Canadian Sport for Life Society
This January, I attended the Canadian Sport for Life Conference in Gatineau, Quebec. This is an opportunity for like-minded people to get together and share ideas aimed at creating a more effective sport delivery system. The trend toward societal obesity, predicted shorter life spans for future generations and the tendency for sports to have ever-increasing numbers of dropouts at even earlier ages has motivated a number of educated and experienced individuals to do something about it.
This was my second trip to the conference, and it was more valuable in that I could see the value of the experience. The first time I was wowed by the information and the people, such as Dr. Colin Higgs, Dr. Dean Kriellaars, Dr. Vicki Harber, Dr. James Mandigo and John Herdman (Women's National Soccer coach). These are some of the big names. Many other people are a huge part of the success to now and the future of the movement.
An integral building block in the CS4L movement is the Long Term Athlete Development model. This is a multi-stage development model developed with the chronological age of the athlete in mind as well as the developmental age. Almost every sport organization in Canada has re-designed their development programs to align with this model. And Canada is behind many other nations in this approach. Hockey USA uses this model as the basis of youth development and is promoted in all coaching educations clinics. The canadiansportforlife.com website has a great clip of their approach under View Resources.
There are many partners to CS4L. Physical and Health Education Canada is trying to promote this approach to schools and school boards across Canada. They also lobby government officials to apply these principals for students. Active for Life is another organization working to educate the population on the benefits of a fit and active lifestyle. Along with Provincial Sport Organizations and National Sport Organizations, there are many people following and spreading the word.
To many, this is a whole new way of thinking. When I approached one hockey organization about a change in philosophy to align with LTAD, the answer was, "It has worked for over 50 years. Why would we change now?" It hasn't worked. They have a shrinking enrolment in an area with a growing population of young people. AS well, they have produced exactly one elite hockey player in that time.
Hopefully some of you will join us as part of the movement to make sport and recreation. Talk to those in charge of your local organization. Take a course and become a coach. Whatever it takes, help to develop future generations that appreciate sports and use it as a springboard to a healthier, active lifestyle.You can be one of those people. Visit the website and see where you fit.