PEI

Funding arrives for Abegweit First Nation baseball field

The Jays Care Foundation arrived with $70,885 in funding for the new diamond in Scotchfort, P.E.I.

Jays Care Foundation gives $70,885 for construction

Robert Witchel, executive director for Jays Care, shakes hands with Chief Junior Gould. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

The Abegweit First Nation in Scotchfort, P.E.I., received its funding for a new baseball field from the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday.

Three months ago, the Jays Care Foundation announced it would fund $70,885 for the new diamond.

It's part of the Field of Dreams grant program that is intended to help communities with infrastructure and other projects.

Redevelopments will include new dugouts, improved drainage and a levelled field. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"I think you see it whether it's professional sports or in a local community," said Jays Care executive director Robert Witchel. "When you get a new facility it drives excitement."

Scotchfort was one of 15 communities across Canada to receive funding.

The community is also contributing money toward the project, said Chief Junior Gould.

The sport has always been an important part of Gould's life, and he said it plays a big role in the community.

"Baseball, to me, is the reason why I'm here today," said Gould. "It taught me about winning, losing, about getting back out, cleaning the dust off, getting back up and keep going."

'A resurgence in the ball field is a resurgence in the community,' says Chief Junior Gould. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Construction started on the new field on July 2.

The project will completely revamp the existing field. It had fallen into disrepair after years of use, and had seen fewer visitors.

'A resurgence in the community'

"Families would come out and help us get the ball field ready for tournaments," said Gould. "That stopped years ago. A resurgence in the ball field is a resurgence in the community."

There will be new stands, backstops and dugouts. The field will also be levelled and drainage will be improved.

'Now we can actually put it to good use,' says Alexis Jadis, 10, about the new field. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

All these upgrades mean a lot to young people like Alexis Jadis, 10, who just started playing softball this year.

"Now we can actually put it to good use," said Jadis.

But adults will be getting their turn at bat as well.

"I'm imagining me hitting home runs," said Gould.

The work on the field is expected to be finished in September.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Sarah MacMillan

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