NWT Soccer Association has hired their first full-time executive director, thanks to a new three-year funding model from the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA).
The previous funding model, administered by Sport North Federation, provided funding to territorial sport organizations on an annual basis. It received lottery funding from the Sport and Recreation Council.
The council has since been amalgamated into MACA. The department took over funding responsibilities for territorial sport organizations on April 1.
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The full-time hire is a first for NWT Soccer. Administrative responsibilities for most sport organizations in the territory are run by volunteers or part-time positions — including larger sports, like hockey.
"It's my dream job," said Lyric Sandhals, the new full-time executive director for NWT Soccer. "It was pretty exciting. I think I almost cried when I signed my contract."
Sandhals started working as a part-time executive director with NWT Soccer in 2011, splitting her time between NWT Volleyball, NWT Snowboarding, and administrative duties with Sport North.
"It's so hard to describe my day because I would be pulled in three or four different directions between all the different sports," Sandhals said.
"It was really fulfilling working for all three sports, but definitely really exhausting."
Sandhals is ecstatic to put all her efforts behind the sport she loves — soccer.
"It's going to be huge," Sandhals said.
"We will be able to provide the clubs and leagues and recreation directors in schools with more supports to deliver programing."
Huw Morris, technical director for NWT Soccer, runs the workshops that Sandhals organizes.
"I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, the most important person for any soccer organization is to get a strong executive director that is dedicated to the sport because without that structure the infrastructure becomes very weak… it becomes mayhem," Morris said.
"I think it is going to enhance our organization ten-fold."
New funding model
Sandhals said the three-year funding commitment from MACA was key to her hire.
"Just knowing the exact amount we are getting for the next three years really allowed us to plan and hire somebody for more than just one year or six months," Sandhals said.
Ian Legaree, MACA's director of sport, recreation, and youth, is encouraged by the hire.
"We had hoped some of the territorial sports organizations would start to do this type of thing," said Legaree.
"Now they can set up a three-year plan of programs under that staff."
Doug Rentmeister, executive director for Sport North, said multi-year funding commitments were not possible under the previous funding model.
"We didn't have the ability to offer multi-year arrangements because of the relationship we had with our previous funder [Sport and Recreation Council]," Rentmeister said.
"With MACA taking control of the lottery funding they are able to put their own conditions on it."
Rentmeister said Sport North continues to assist smaller territorial sport organizations with shared services for administration.