Alex Nelson, a local member of the Songhees Nation, works with the provincial organization I-SPARC (Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council). Travis Paterson/News Staff

New PISE program will develop Indigenous athletes

Fuelling Youth Performance available to local Indigenous youth athletes

Alex Nelson says he can already see the improvement in the speed of his grandson on the soccer field, thanks to a high performance training block.

This week another high performance program, Youth Fuelling Performance, launched at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence to support Indigenous youth. Over the next 10 weeks 16 Indigenous athletes who demonstrated skill and determination in their chosen sport will train in a specialized strength and conditioning program with PISE’s performance training coaches. It’s a program designed to take athlete performance to the next level and support them on the proper pathway to develop athletically.

Nelson, a local member of the Songhees Nation who works with the provincial organization I-SPARC (Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council), has already seen athletes benefit from this style of program before.

“PISE came to us ahead of the [2017] North America Indigenous Games and by golly, it paid dividends, the [B.C.] soccer team came back with gold,” said Nelson, who got his start in coaching locally in the 1970s. “The strength, the conditioning, the speed and the agility, it improved in a short time program, so I just know the benefits are there.”

Money for the program came from Island Savings.

“This [is] a program that we passionately believe can make a fundamental difference by supporting these young Indigenous athletes to new personal standards of performance excellence,” said Robert Bettauer, CEO of PISE.

“When [the athletes] see their hard-work and determination pay off, there’s no telling what they can accomplish both in their athletic lives and in their communities,” said Randy Bertsch, CEO of Island Savings.

Island Savings is also sponsoring two scholarships for performance training at PISE.

It should also be noted that Nelson was honoured as the W. A. C. Bennett Award in the 2018 induction class for the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

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