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Enthusiastic participation in SSFA 55+ games

Battlefords hosted 647 competitors June 11-13.
The Saskatoon Sports District had the most competitors with 157, followed by Rivers West District, which was the host district. There were 148 competitors from the communities that comprise Rivers West.

NORTH BATTLEFORD — Eric Johnson, promotions, public relations and communications chair for the Saskatchewan Seniors’ Fitness Association 55+ games deems the three-day competition another Battlefords’ event success story.

The games included 537 competitors. This year’s event also included 40 contributors in the poetry and short story categories as well as photography. Including the curling event that was held earlier in March, that totaled 647 competitors for the 2024 games.

Events included in the June 11-13 provincial competition were eight-ball, cribbage, five-pin bowling, golf, curling held in March, Kaiser, pickleball, lawn bowling, slo-pitch, swimming and track and field.

The Saskatoon Sports District had the most competitors with 157, followed by Rivers West District, which was the host district. There were 148 competitors from the communities that comprise Rivers West.

An interesting note from the games was that pickleball had the most competitors overall with 144, followed by golf with 94 competitors.

“The unique role of the SSFA and the 55+ games is its opportunity for physical and recreational activities. Participants come from various parts of the province to compete, renew friendships and usually end up making new friends as well. These games not only support and promote active and healthy lifestyles, but also provide a framework that focuses on social, physical and intellectual opportunities regardless of age or ability, whether a participant or a volunteer. These participants are excellent role models in demonstrating active living. Seniors are no exception: they like to test their skills competition.” Margaret Gailing, president of the SSFA, as quoted on the organization’s website.

Johnson also acknowledged the 150 volunteers who helped create memorable experiences as well as ensuring all events ran smoothly.

“With the large volunteer contingent, community support was excellent. The volunteers were involved in a range of tasks including registration, transporting participants, medical support, refereeing and umpiring, scoring and a number of other tasks. Each event had a local event co-ordinator who was responsible for organizing and scheduling the event, as well as ensuring the event ran smoothly,” added Johnson

The event co-ordinators were: five-pin bowling - Rick Cooper, cribbage - Al White, eight-ball - Mark Danczak, golf - Lloyd Hartl, Kaiser - Thomas Schwab, lawn bowling - Jo Urquhart, photography - Leah Garven, pickleball - Ed Iwanchuk, poetry and short story writing - Sheila Gabert, slo-pitch - Myron Cooper, swimming - Sheila Johnson, and track and field - Karen Wharington.

“The co-ordinators did an excellent job and all the events went on without any major issues.”

The oldest male competitor was Doug Ferguson from Stewart Valley (South West District). He is 93 years old and participated in five-pin bowling. The oldest female competitor was Stella Ewanchuk from North Battleford. She is 92 years old and participated in the Kaiser event. Stella and her playing partner, Margaret Kemp, won the silver medal for Kaiser.

The games organizing committee affirms, “The community reception was excellent. We received a lot of positive feedback from the community about how well the event was run. The participants also provided very positive feedback about the event, praising the quality of the facilities and the commitment and enthusiasm of the volunteers. The games had tremendous support from the business community as well as both the City of North Battleford and Town of Battleford councils.”

Rivers West District, that included athletes from the Battlefords and area, took home a number of medals. Johnson says gold medalists are eligible to compete in the national championships upcoming in Quebec City in August. Two Rivers West curling teams in the 55+ and 65+ categories have earned nationals spots and have stated they will be competing. Team Verhoeven and Team Scheible will travel to Quebec.

All medal winners in each event are posted on the website: