Young Indigenous athletes up their game with personal trainers

A new program is giving Indigenous youth personal fitness training they might not otherwise get.

Youth Leadership Through Sports program offers training for Indigenous youth aged 10 to 14

Activities at the Youth Leadership Through Sports program on Saturday included learning proper running form and conditioning exercises. (Albert Couillard/CBC)

A new program is giving Indigenous youth personal fitness training they might not otherwise get.

The Youth Leadership Through Sports program held its second training session at the University of Saskatchewan on Saturday.

It was Cole Currie's second time attending the program. He's a 12-year-old athlete from Blaine Lake and Mistawasis First Nation, and he said his goal is to make his brothers proud by someday playing on a national lacrosse team.

"I think it would make them feel really proud because they had an athlete that went far, because they taught me," he said. "They taught me how to play everything."

Cole Currie, 12, says he likes training with the experienced athletes at the University of Saskatchewan. (Albert Couillard/CBC)

He also said he's seen firsthand how having sports in his life has made a difference for him — he says sports keeps him out of trouble.

"Some of the kids at my school, some of them already are smoking drugs already, because they don't play any of the sports I play."

Knock down barriers

The program invites Indigenous youth from First Nations communities across Saskatchewan to come out for a day of sports training in Saskatoon, several times throughout the year. Youth aged 10 to 14 are welcome to take part.

It's a partnership between the University of Saskatchewan, the College of Kinesiology, Huskie Athletics, and the Saskatoon Tribal Council.

Saskatoon Tribal Council chief Mark Arcand said the program helps overcome some of the challenges Indigenous children might face in developing their sports skills.

"When kids can't afford a personal trainer, and they have goals to play junior hockey or WHL hockey or play on an elite volleyball or basketball team, we got to knock down those barriers and give them as much opportunities as we can."

Saskatoon Tribal Council chief Mark Arcand says the program gets the kids comfortable in the university setting, so they'll be more likely to choose post-secondary education as an option after high school. (Albert Couillard/CBC)

The program is free for the young athletes, said Arcand.

"All the kids have to do is show up and learn from the best."

This is a one-year pilot program, but Arcand said they're already looking at expanding the program to include Indigenous youth from Saskatoon, and to older teens.

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer and reporter with CBC Saskatoon, and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca

With files from Radio-Canada