(Image via http://canadianathletesnow.ca/)
As the world is enthralled with the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, our emotions are overcome while cheering on these incredible athletes. We’re reminded of their endless hard work, and family sacrifices and bonds (Mirela Rahneva), the elation of surprise wins (Ester Ledecka) and history-making comebacks (Mirai Nagasu).
Their journeys to the Olympics are often lifelong commitments with few rewards; the passion and talent may be there, but the funding to reach those goals are less so.
Canada sent its largest ever delegation to a winter Olympics with 225 athletes competing in Pyeongchang. A number of funding options are available through the likes of Sport Canada, the Canadian Olympic Foundation, B2ten, and corporate sponsors Bell, Canadian Tire, Hudson’s Bay and RBC, etc.
Nevertheless, there remains a funding gap.
The Canadian Athletes Now (CAN) Fund is among those alternative options. Founded in 1997 by Jane Roos and Conrad Leinemann, the non-profit organization has since “raised over $26 million” and “supported 80% of the Canadian athletes who competed at the Vancouver, London, Sochi and Rio Games.”
Unrestricted funds are given directly to the athlete for whatever expenses they may incur. It’s financial support for as many athletes as possible, not only the best known names.
Several winter and summer Olympians have explained their costs of training and competing, equipment, coaching and nutrition, including former recipient Carmelina Moscato.
In the most recent funding cycle for CAN Fund, 829 (winter and summer) athletes applied for financial support; 60% of those winter athletes “are in debt and have a net negative income. Their expenses to train and compete are greater than their income from sponsorship, bursaries, prize money, work, etc.”
Even on the widely celebrated Canadian Women’s Hockey Team, who are competing for their fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal, 21 of the 23 person roster is a 2017 CAN Fund recipient.
In the 2012 and 2015/2016 funding cycles, 12 and 13 members, respectively, of the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team (CanWNT) were CAN Fund recipients, including Christine Sinclair, Karina LeBlanc and Kadeisha Buchanan. During this time frame, many CanWNT members were playing in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league, which folded in 2012, and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) that launched in 2013. The CanWNT went on to win Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016.
Last week, the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) announced a June 10 friendly in Hamilton, ON against Germany. Tickets will go on sale March 8, following a two-day pre-sale window. Eleven players whose salaries will be covered by the CSA have also been allocated to their respective NWSL teams for the 2018 season.
The fifth ranked CanWNT are preparing for the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, June 7-July 7.
CAN Fund has found creative ways of getting supporters involved through art, dinners, adopt an athlete, athlete speakers and an online shop with exclusive items.
CAN Fund is currently holding an Athlete Art Exhibit at the FCP Gallery in First Canadian Place in Toronto until February 23. “The exhibition includes art, photography and autographed items” being sold to raise funds. The art of goalkeeper Erin McLeod is among the work of athletes and other prominent Canadians featured in the exhibition.
McLeod is making her return after injury to the CanWNT for the upcoming Algarve Cup.
An online auction is also running until February 25. You can bid on items like a hockey stick autographed by Canadian Women’s Hockey Team captain Marie-Philip Poulin.
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