After a successful turnout last year, Cochrane Senior Sports Day will return to Spray Lakes Sawmill Family Sports Centre Sept. 21 for a day of fun, competitive and athletic spirit.
Started seven years ago, the event ties in to the Big Country Seniors Sports Society (BCSSS). Also referred to as Zone 2, BCSSS is one of the eight zones under Alberta 55 Plus – an association that promotes competitive and non-competitive sporting opportunities for seniors throughout the province.
“We are very pleased to repeat it this year,” said Douglas Campbell, Area 2 director with BCSSS and a senior athlete from Rocky View County (RVC).
“It’s good for peer groups and socialization. It’s not professional sports – our key goal is participation and fun.”
The four core activities include pickle ball, floor shuffleboard, bocce and the card game Euchre. Some events run in the morning, while others run in the early afternoon.
Fifty-two athletes competed at last year’s Cochrane Senior Sports Day, according to Campbell. This year, he said, 55 seniors were already registered, as of Sept. 4, and he anticipates more than 70 will take part.
Registration for the event runs until Sept. 10, though Campbell said that’s not set in stone.
“In some sports, we could be full by then. In others, we could take some people until Sept. 11 or 12,” he said. “We do have limited courts – we have four or five pickle ball courts, four or five shuffleboard courts and two bocce pitches. We do have capacity limits, but so far, we’re OK.”
Campbell said he hopes there is a high turnout this year, as he wants interest in the sports among local seniors to lead to increased involvement with BCSSS.
“We do want to build those numbers,” he said. “We offer 30-odd sports throughout the year, so we’re trying to make sure seniors are more aware of this [organization].”
To ensure activities are fair, Campbell said, athletes will compete with those in similar age groups. For instance, 55-year-olds will play against 55-year-olds and 80-year-olds against 80-year-olds.
“The most impressive thing is, people come with all different kinds of abilities and they come from all different walks of life,” he said. “As you mix and mingle and socialize with them, you come away with a strong sense of camaraderie.”
While the majority of registrants are from RVC, Campbell said, other attendees will come to Cochrane from farther away.
“We have players from Drumheller and Strathmore to the east, High River and Okotoks to south, and Olds and Sundre to the north,” he said. “We’re hoping to get some from Banff and Cochrane, but we don’t have any confirmed [as of Sept. 4].”
For seniors who have never taken part in a Zone 2 event, Campbell encourages them to sign up for both the social and physical benefits.
“Hopefully, from our point of view, that will mean people are less shy and more willing to get involved with some of these sports,” he said. “They are a lot of fun and we want to make that a part of people’s lives, as they age.”