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Swan Valley geared up for fun and games

Area looks forward to hosting 3,000 people in seven-day event

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SWAN Valley will welcome a flood of over 3,000 people over the next week playing host to the 2012 Power Smart Manitoba Summer Games.

The two-phase event, running July 15-21, will have more than 1,600 athletes from seven regional teams competing in 10 events ranging from soccer and basketball to sailing and track.

And with only one day to go before Sunday's opening ceremonies, Paula Norman, co-chairwoman of the Games, says the community is ready for the challenge and is looking forward to the event finally getting underway.

"The excitement has been building pretty quick this week," said Norman in a phone interview. "The community is really behind everything we've done and it's just getting bigger and bigger in terms of people sprucing up their businesses, getting their game-wear going and preparing for all the visitors. It's been a real community building event for us."

Since winning the bid for Manitoba's largest ongoing multi-sport event in September 2009, Norman said the local areas have been working hard to ensure a successful 2012 campaign.

"It takes a whole lot of people to make this happen and we've gotten a real great response from the community," she said, noting in particular the influx of volunteers coming forward since the announcement. "Our volunteers have done a really fantastic job of having things ready. Our goal was to have everything ready to go July 1 and so the last week-and-a-half have been spent finishing little odds and ends and making sure that everything is set."

Even the region's political sphere have joined in to help increase the buzz around town.

In late March, Swan River mayor Glen McKenzie declared Friday a "Games Day of the Week," effective March 23. In a "casual Friday" type fashion, local businesses and community members have been ending the work-week showing off their Manitoba Games T-shirts and other apparel.

"It's been just excellent all the different business and organizations that have had their employees and people wearing Summer Games wear with the logo on it," said McKenzie. "We're very proud of Swan River and the Swan River Valley and it's going to be great to be able to showcase our community."

McKenzie hopes an event like this will help show people from other parts of the province just what the area has to offer.

"People who have never been to Swan River and the Swan River Valley before are going to experience hospitality that's probably second to none in the province," he said. "If they're able to get an opportunity to visit either the Duck Mountains or Porcupine Mountains and see some of the lakes and the beautiful scenery, they're going to be impressed."

But even if the visit doesn't extend to outside attractions, Norman hopes each athlete has the opportunity to live the true Manitoba Games experience.

"It's really all about the kids and the sportsmanship that they display and as a community we want to make sure they have a fantastic experience at the different venues," said Norman. "Whether it's the actual sporting venues themselves or the (athletes) villages or the food venues, we just want everything to go really well. We want all aspects of the games to be meaningful to the athletes and we hope that the sporting part is very meaningful for them and they have a great time.

"(The Manitoba Games) really are the epitome of what youth sport is all about and it's quite exciting. If you haven't seen it before it's a great thing to come out and watch." twitter: @jeffkhamilton

What, when, where


What: The 2012 Powersmart Manitoba Summer Games

When: July 15-21: two phases

Phase 1: July 15-18, baseball, basketball, (female) sailing, soccer (male and female) swimming, beach volleyball (demonstration sport)

Phase 2: July 18-21, 2012 Athletics, Basketball (Male) Cycling, Golf, Softball (Female) Triathlon

Where: Swan Valley Region, which consists of Swan River, the RM of Swan River, Benito, Minitonas and the RM of Minitonas

Who: Approximately 1,600 athletes from seven regional teams will compete -- Central, Eastmen, Interlake, Norman, Parkland, Westman and Winnipeg- -- with a maximum of 250 athletes and coaches on each team. Over 1,200 volunteers are trained to operate the multi-sport event

Other facts

The Manitoba Games are the largest ongoing multi-sport event in the province

Close to 4,000 athletes attempted to qualify in 10 sports.

The Games follow the Olympic cycle, taking place every two years, alternating between summer and winter events

The program is administered by Sport Manitoba, with direction provided by the Manitoba Games Council

Sport Manitoba, Manitoba's corporate community, participant registration fees and local fundraising efforts fund the program

Opening ceremonies: Swan Valley Agricultural Grounds -- Sunday (8:30-9:30 p.m.)

Closing ceremonies: Swan Valley Agricultural Grounds -- July 21 (2:30-3:45 p.m.)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 14, 2012 C4

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