The Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE) and Island Savings have announced a partnership with the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (ISPARC).
I-SPARC Elder and Senior Advisor Alex Nelson explains that I-SPARC is "a provincial organization that offers sport recreation and physical activity to all our provincial Aboriginal bodies, be it Métis, Inuit, First Nation."
This new partnership began when the Vancouver Island Regional Soccer Team, led by Alex Nelson, qualified to represent Team BC at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games and received conditioning training at PISE in preparation for the Games.
"And by golly, it paid dividends. And they all came back with gold!" says Nelson.
"I saw the strength conditioning, the speed and agility, it was improved. And it was a short-time program, so I just know the benefits are there."
Over 10 weeks, 16 Indigenous athletes will work with PISE performance training coaches in a specialized strength and conditioning program in the weight room.
PISE Performance Coordinator Chris Hinton says that this is an area of physical conditioning "a lot of these athletes don't get."
"They get a lot of time on the field, or the ice, or whatever their sport entails, but a lot of time they don't get time in the weight room, where a lot of those really great skills are developed, and where we can actually make a big difference in their strength and agility," Hinton said.
The young athletes, both male and female, range in age from 13 to 16. Island Savings is sponsoring the program, known as Fueling Youth Performance.
"We believe in being part of the fabric of the community," says Island Savings vice-president Colin Nichol. "And this is another extension of how we can do that."
Nelson is excited to watch the young athletes take their performance to the next level, through this program.
"You surround yourself with good people, good things happen. You surround yourself with good programs, good things happen" says Nelson, beaming.