STONEY NAKODA – With the support of organizations across southern Alberta, the Stoney Nakoda girls volleyball U-18 team has officially announced its attendance to the Alberta Indigenous Games (AIG).
After concerns around funding arose, whether or not the girls volleyball team would be able to participate at AIG was up in the air. However, the team received sponsorships and support from the Cochrane Rotary Club and the Nakoda Youth Council.
“Feels good, feels great. All the support that they gave us for the girls to attend and for the girls to get the things they want for the team,” said head coach of the Stoney Nakoda girls volleyball team Joey Wesley.
The Cochrane Rotary Club raised $1,200 to provide the team with warm up suits, backpacks and books for the girls while the Nakoda Youth Council sponsored the team by covering the AIG registration costs.
“I thought, 'oh my gosh, they got a passion,' which is great. They got a purpose, which is to go to the [Alberta] Indigenous Games, and they had a goal of $10,000 … I just felt they were a group that we could help out,” said Cochrane Rotary Club member, Martin Parnell.
Communications manager at the Nakoda Youth Council, Tricia Young, said that supporting Stoney Nakoda sports was important for youths.
"It’s important because not many youth out here get the help they need, especially for the sports that they need help with. I just thought that giving them the help with paying the registration fee will help them gain more experience and having more exposure out into the world and how different it is rather than just sticking into the reserves," Young said.
According to Wesley, it’s not just the Cochrane Rotary Club and the Nakoda Youth Council that helped support the team. The Banff Lodging Co. sponsored the girls, covering the full cost of accommodation for the team, which Wesley said alleviated some of the financial costs.
Beyond the AIG, Wesley said that some of the girls on the team are looking ahead in their volleyball sports careers with goals of playing for Team Alberta at the North Indigenous American Games.
“In the community, it’s great to see that young athletes are heading towards that way and not only the volleyball event to go, but to explore out there and explore the world that they can give them opportunities to see where they want to go with volleyball, in their career or in life,” said Wesley.
The AIG will run from Aug. 11-17 at the Rundle Park in Edmonton, Alta. with over 1,500 youths aged 12 to 20-years-old competing from all over the province.
With the collective support from the community, the Stoney Nakoda Girls Volleyball Team are still looking for sponsorship to cover on-reserve rental fees, equipment, such as volleyballs and other costs. To donate and support the team, you can visit their GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/stoney-nakoda-girls-volleyball-team.