Two months ago, probably very few people in Kelowna were familiar with the International Children’s Games.
But in the weeks since, the local media has done its part to help that public education process. And with the athletes now arriving in town this week, coupled with the number of local competitors making up the Team Kelowna contingent, it’s not hard to get enthusiastic about watching these 12 to 15 year old athletes about to receive an experience of a lifetime.
For many, it might be the only international athletic competition they are ever are a part of, for others the only chance they will get to visit Canada, or British Columbia, or Kelowna.
The numbers say a lot about the commitment to the first winter version of the ICG taking place in Canada.
There will be 470 athletes taking part along with 126 coaches. Some 38 cities from around the world represented. Team Kelowna will have 69 athletes and 19 coaches taking part.
There will also be 800 volunteers and more than 100 local billeting families helping the organizational effort of the ICG, which will wrap up on Sunday with the closing ceremonies at the Delta Grand.
As this editorial is being written yesterday afternoon, the opening ceremonies in a packed Prospera Place will have taken place last night, and from all indications it was expected to be a great kick-off for the event.
While the competition and winning a medal will register big-time with the athletes and their coaches, we hope that the athletes also have an opportunity to meet one another beyond just at a starting line or over a face-off circle. To share knowledge about one another, to enjoy the common bond of competing in these Games should be part of something they will remember for the rest of their lives.