Sports in Cape Breton
Cape Breton Island has a rich sporting history with many different organizations successfully running programs at various age levels. Hockey is the most prominent sport played throughout the island with approximately 2400 kids actively enrolled in associations at all age levels throughout most communities. Both recreational and competitive leagues are assembled, many with long standing programs.
In Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) there are several hockey arenas, including the recently renovated Miner’s Forum in Glace Bay. Centre 200, Sydney’s primary sports and entertainment facility, Coxheath Arena, Whitney Pier Rink, Dominion Rink, New Waterford & District Community Centre, the Emera Centre, Sydney Mines & District Community Centre and the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre are all active facilities that are home to various hockey programs and teams. The Canada Games Complex at Cape Breton University is also a facility with an Olympic size ice surface. The complex is currently inactive but is capable of running ice hockey programs for its students and community. Five of the nine rinks are operated by CBRM with one additional facility soon to become part of its operations. Collectively, it is estimated that CBRM spends between $1.5 million and $2 million annually to operate these facilities.
There are several other sporting organizations on the Island, including Basketball Cape Breton, Volleyball Cape Breton, Soccer Cape Breton, Football Cape Breton, Rugby Cape Breton, Gymnastics Cape Breton, and Track & Field. There are no facilities in CBRM available for these programs. There is one exception for Gymnastics Cape Breton. It rents a CBRM facility but it is, however, for exclusive use. Of course, some of these sports have access to outdoor fields for brief seasons but lack training and practice facilities for all other months of the year. Basketball and Volleyball, two long standing organizations, have historically been given access to school gymnasiums. However, there is difficulty in sustaining programming in a consistent manner due to competing with school teams that understandably use the majority of available gym time. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected decisions surrounding club team access into school gymnasiums. It is widely understood that going forward, access for the most part will be restricted. School gymnasiums are not configured for private or restricted access posing challenges related to security of premises and supervision.
Aside from hockey, there are approximately 2000 kids enrolled in indoor sports that require a gymnasium facility. With hockey being comprised of mostly males, there is a 50% representation for girls in Basketball, Track & Field, while Volleyball is comprised of a female membership of more than 90%.
Child Poverty in Cape Breton
In Nova Scotia, 18 communities have child poverty rates over 30% - 10 of which are on Cape Breton Island. These are indeed troubling statistics and the five year trend has not improved. Since 2014, there has been a decrease in child poverty rates - but less than 1%. The 2017 report card on child and family poverty in our province reveals very troubling inequities among children based on race and ethnicity.
Tomorrow's Legends is devoted to empowering youth through sport and culture. We recognize that solving the problem of child and family poverty is no easy feat. However, we believe that youth empowerment can play a vital role . By building confidence, strengthening relationships and contributing to better health, kids have a far greater chance of achieving financial prosperity in their adult lives. Providing the necessary infrastructure and reducing barriers to enrollment in organized sports provides opportunities and success in other life endeavours.
By building an ultra affordable state-of-the-art solar powered facility, sporting organizations that have tenancy in the building will be better equipped financially to expand its programs and provide opportunities for kids regardless of socioeconomic status.