Arctic Winter Games
in need of public support

by Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 23/98) - With about 1,300 athletes descending upon Yellowknife for the Arctic Winter Games in March, the recruitment of an army of volunteers is under way.

Dan Schofield, in charge of volunteers and officials, is overseeing close to 45 voluntary committees. In addition to the 19 event-related committees, there are crews dealing with first aid, finance, catering, communications and media, decorations, results, culture, transportation, open and closing ceremonies, tickets and awards.

"If you're just a good-hearted person who wants to see the community succeed in hosting these games -- and if you want to see the athletes, volunteers and coaches have a good time and enjoy their experience -- we can always use you," said Schofield.

Those offering their time don't necessarily have to be experts in their voluntary field, Schofield said.

"Most of these positions can go to people with good hearts and well intent," he said. "As long as they're prepared to commit the hours, there's always a job that can fit someone's skill level."

The time commitment will vary according to positions. Someone score-keeping at a basketball game will devote about two hours, others will work shifts and some will be occupied for the full day.

"There are a few committees that do need a lot of help for a very short period of time," Schofield said, referring to security and accommodations, among others.

Other committees that still require plenty of assistance include: cross-country skiing, dog mushing, volleyball, hockey and accreditation and registration.

All in all, volunteer recruitment is going relatively well so far, according to Schofield.

"We're in decent shape ... but always in need of more," he said. "We figure that there will be a bit of a rush of volunteers coming in the next little while, which is always the way. As the games get closer more people build momentum and support for the games, We're pretty confident we'll reach the number of volunteers that are required."

Those who have submitted volunteer applications can expect to be contacted within the next week, Schofield noted.

The officials, coaches and mission staff will push the number of visitors upwards of 1,600 people. They and the athletes will be staying in classrooms at four schools -- Sir John Franklin, St. Patrick, Weledeh and William McDonald -- as well as Akaitcho Hall.

The Yellowknife-hosted Arctic Winter Games will rival those held in Alaska two years ago -- the biggest yet -- according to Games general manager Joe Walsh.

"We'll be just as big as Alaska was," he said.

Any family members who decide to come along will hopefully be billeted in a private home. An appeal is being made to families and individuals to accommodate some of the guests. The potential language barrier encountered with visitors from Greenland and Russia could make things interesting, acknowledged Wendy Bisaro, chair of the accommodations committee.