The Team

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS -

Craig Mac­Dougall’s mes­sage to Team P.E.I. is a sim­ple one.

“We want them to be com­pet­i­tive, and are not go­ing to put pres­sure on them and say, ‘OK, you have to come back with medals,’” said Mac­Dougall. “We want them to ex­pe­ri­ence a great sport­ing event and cul­tural event as well.”

Mac­Dougall, who is from Sum­mer­side, is the chef de mis­sion for Team P.E.I. at the North Amer­i­can Indige­nous Games (NAIG) in Toronto and Hamil­ton, Ont., from July 16-23. Team P.E.I.’s ros­ter is com­prised of ath­letes from across the prov­ince.

“It’s ex­cit­ing,” said Mac­Dougall. “The kids are get­ting pumped.”

A to­tal of 27 ath­letes and a 40-mem­ber con­tin­gent will rep­re­sent P.E.I. at the NAIG, which is held ev­ery three years.

This is the sec­ond-largest con­tin­gent to rep­re­sent P.E.I., with the largest be­ing 47.

“In ev­ery sport we had a call out to com­mu­ni­ties and a try­out ba­sis, where kids went through a num­ber of skills de­pend­ing on the sport,” said Mac­Dougall in ex­plain­ing the se­lec­tion process for Team P.E.I. “The cri­te­ria they were us­ing was set by the last NAIGs.”

Ath­letes were no­ti­fied of their se­lec­tion to Team P.E.I. in Fe­bru­ary, and they also had to com­mit to a train­ing sched­ule.

P.E.I. will be rep­re­sented in bad­minton, ath­let­ics and, for the first time, in swim­ming, 3D archery and ri­fle shoot­ing.

“The good thing about our team is a lot of the kids are 16 and un­der, so they will have the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in two dif­fer­ent Games,” said Mac­Dougall, who noted P.E.I. ath­letes range in age from 10 to 19.

P.E.I.’s medals at two pre­vi­ous the NAIGs were A look at Team P.E.I. for the North Amer­i­can Indige­nous Games, tak­ing place July 16-23:

Bad­minton

Ath­letes

Jonah Kil­bride, Bayside Jesse Labobe, Elms­dale. Kavon Bernard, Len­nox Is­land. Keely Dy­ment, Len­nox Is­land. Nikeda Sark, Len­nox Is­land. Macken­zie Thomas, Len­nox Is­land.

Alyssa-Jo Bernard, Len­nox Is­land. Bran­don Bernard, Len­nox Is­land.

Coach

Robin En­man, Mis­couche.

Man­ager

Han­nah Arse­nault, Len­nox Is­land.

Swim­ming

Ath­letes both won in 2002.

Char­lene Tu­plin Camp­bell claimed gold in taek­wondo in 2002, and Amanda Fran­cis had a gold-medal per­for­mance in box­ing.

The next NAIG is sched­uled for 2020, and Mac­Dougall would like to con­tinue to in­crease the num­ber of sports P.E.I. com­petes in.

Two pos­si­bil­i­ties, he noted, are golf and beach vol­ley­ball.

Mac­Dougall noted, due to pop­u­la­tion num­bers, P.E.I. has and will con­tinue to fo­cus more on in­di­vid­ual sports.

“That is be­cause of the num­ber of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple on the Is­land — 2,500 or so com­pared to thou­sands and thou­sands,” said Mac­Dougall.

“Some other con­tin­gen­cies are bring­ing 550 ath­letes, coaches, chap­er­ones com­pared to our 40.”

Mac­Dougall pointed out noted the NAIG ex­pe­ri­ence is more than just sports.

“In the evenings, there is cul­tural en­ter­tain­ment, and there are cul­tural op­por­tu­ni­ties where they can ex­pe­ri­ence other abo­rig­i­nal cul­tures from North Amer­ica dur­ing this whole week,” he said.

“Then you have the pin trad­ing and things like that. It’s a very ex­cit­ing time.”

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