With 2019 just around the corner, Canadian student-athletes are continuing to push themselves in order to prove that they have what it takes to represent Team Canada at the 29th FISU Winter Universiade and 30th FISU Summer Universiade.
Although participation in the event most certainly requires student-athletes to be elite in their respective sport, those selected must also have the financial means to pay for their transportation, accommodations and registration costs.
While some student-athletes may have the resources to pay their own way, this isn’t usually the case - a major hurdle for both student-athletes and U SPORTS.
“As students in the first place, they don’t necessarily have full-time jobs or even part-time jobs to support themselves while they are going to school. So having to think about trying to find funds to be able to participate in an international competition just kind of adds to that stress of performing well in school, performing well in their sport, and being a student-athlete all together.”
Charonne Thomasos - U SPORTS Manager of International Games Operations
With this in mind, the U SPORTS International Program is once again turning to Canadians to show their support for Team Canada by donating to RallyMe, after previously using the platform for the U SPORTS Women’s Hockey All-Star Team and Canadian Women’s Futsal Team that competed at the World University Championship this past summer.
“The RallyMe campaign is called (Be A) Game Changer,” says Thomasos. “It (is) a crowdfunding campaign to try to generate fundraising for the FISU Winter Universiade taking place in Krasnoyarsk, Russia next March.”
While every international event is a major opportunity for student-athletes to showcase their talents, the FISU Universiade holds extra significance. In many cases for student-athletes in Canada looking to reach the Olympics, the journey to attaining this dream includes representing Canada and U SPORTS at the FISU Winter or Summer Universiade – a similar, international multi-sport competition for student-athletes at least 17 and less than 28 years of age as of January 1 in the year of the Games.
“The Universiades aren’t only just international competitions for student-athletes,” says Thomasos. “National Sport Organizations here in Canada, have aligned the competition as a test event or qualifying event to get to the Olympics and other international games as well.”
In recent years, this connection between U SPORTS, the FISU Universiade and the Olympics has been ever more apparent. At the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, 62 members of Team Canada either competed for or attended a U SPORTS institution, while Olympians Marc Kennedy, Keri Morrison and Neville Wright also participated in a past FISU Winter Universiade.
The importance of competing in a FISU Universiade in order to reach the Olympics for a U SPORTS student-athlete also rings true for summer sports. Just ask Kylie Masse, who a year after capturing Gold in the 100m backstroke at the 2015 FISU Summer Universiade in South Korea, competed in her first Olympics the following year, earning a bronze medal in the same event.
Due to the high level of competition that Canadian student-athletes face at these FISU Universiades, their focus must be squarely on their athletic preparation, and not on worrying about finances.
“This is what keeps high-performance athletes up at night. It’s an expensive business to be a high-performance athlete and this is one singular event that alone is going to cost them $5,000-$6,000. Let alone, all the investment they’re going to make in the months and even years leading up to that. To be able to take away that (financial) stress from these athletes and allow them to have a greater focus on preparation and performance is huge going into a games like this.”
Roger Archambault - Assistant Athletic Director of the Ottawa Gee-Gees, Chef de Mission for Team Canada at the upcoming FISU Winter Universiade
While rosters have yet to be announced, by showing your support you will ensure that Canada’s best student-athletes and future leaders, do not forfeit a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent Canada because of financial obstacles.
“Be the Game Changer that moves them forward towards that potential Olympic performance.”
You can show your support for Team Canada by donating here.
Matt is a fourth-year Radio & Television Arts: Sport Media student at Ryerson University. His experience includes writing a wide variety of sports reporting for The Eyeopener, Ryerson’s campus newspaper, and for several online outlets. Matt served as the Communications Intern at U SPORTS during the summer of 2018.