“It warms my hear to see the kids back out there again.”

These are the words of Meadow Lake’s Brian Gislason, a long-time supporter of the local KidSport initiative, when commenting on the fact organized sports are back following the uncertainty of COVID-19.

He also said, after a two-year hiatus – it’s important for KidSport to take action when it comes to raising funds to provide disadvantaged young people with opportunities to take part in the sporting activities of their choice. A major way, he added, to make this happen is through the annual KidSport golf tournament.

“It’s been two years since we’ve held the golf tournament because of COVID-19, so we’re very excited to get back out on the course and raise some money for KidSport,” Gislason said.

The tournament gets underway at the Meadow Lake Golf Club May 28 with tee-off time scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Prior to this, as in past years, an autograph signing will be held featuring prominent athletes from both here and afar.

“We’re having three Saskatchewan Roughrider alumni coming in – Wes Cates, Luc Mullinder and Andrew Greene, as well as blind golf champ Gerry Nelson and his coach, Chris Villeneuve, along with former NHL player and Meadow Lake’s own Dwight King,” Gislason said. “All of these folks have been here in the past. Andrew has been here just about every year. He’s our go-to guy in terms of getting alumni players to attend each year. He used to work for KidSport at the provincial level, has a soft spot for KidSport and doesn’t seem to have much trouble convincing some of his former teammates to come up with him and spend the day with us.”

This was echoed by Greene.

“In Meadow Lake, everyone steps up and I am always so impressed,” Greene said. “As long as I am able to and as long as they keep inviting me, I will keep coming back year-after-year. The KidSport volunteers have such big hearts, and so do all the people who support the tournament. It wouldn’t be the success it is without the community’s support.”

Gislason, meanwhile, described all the athletes who take part in the tournament as “tremendous.”

“They’re all athletes they understand the benefits of being involved in sports,” he noted. “It’s not a very tough sell to them.”

KidSport is an organization that provides financial assistance to families for registration fees and/or equipment.

“It’s geared toward families that may be facing financial obstacles and maybe can’t afford to put their child into a given sport,” Gislason continued. “KidSport helps families get their kids into the game. We’ve been at this for close to 20 years now, so KidSport is pretty well known in Meadow Lake and area and we’re just pleased we can get back into the game. For the past two years there have been a lot of sporting activities that have either been cancelled entirely or have operated on a limited capacity. To see kids out throwing and kicking the ball around, playing hockey, and doing all those things again makes you realize just how important it is.”

In spite of the fact the tournament could not take place for the last two years, Gislason said the local KidSport group is still in decent financial shape.

“We couldn’t do any fundraising, but we didn’t have any sponsorships either,” he said. “The last two years haven’t seen very much money coming in, but we’re OK. This tournament will be big for us. The business community has also been unbelievable. COVID-19 has not treated local businesses very kindly and we were a bit reluctant to approach businesses to ask for help, but the response has been unbelievable. It’s great to see so many businesses believe in our cause.”

Come May 28, Gislason also expects the golf course to be jam-packed.

“We’re close to 23 or 24 teams out of the 36 maximum already, so if people are interested in registering a team I suggest they do it quickly because it looks as though we may be full,” he said. “It will be a fun day to have so many golfers on the course raising money for a good cause.”

by Phil Ambroziak