CALGARY, AB — The Calgary Roughnecks welcome Right To Play volunteers and athlete ambassadors to Scotiabank Saddledome tonight when they take on the New England Black Wolves.
In conjunction with the NLL’s Right To Play Weekend, the Roughnecks are dedicating the entire night to the initiative. This is the first year that the NLL has partnered with the Right To Play program.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Scott Sandison, Right To Play Global Athlete Ambassador Manager. “The Roughnecks have supported Right To Play for a really long time. We’ve seen it through individual players and the organization. For Right To Play, we’re really excited and proud that the Roughnecks have stepped up yet again to have this great day featuring Right To Play.
“There’s going to be so much that you’ll see in the arena. You’ll see Right To Play branded everywhere and players will be warming up in our shirts, so that will be great. There will be lots of Right To Play volunteers in the crowd talking to people about what we do and to have the Roughnecks support in all that is amazing.”
The Right To Play program is not just used as a way to help teach and develop kids through sports, but it also works with over 16,400 volunteer coaches.
“Right To Play is a sport for development organization that uses play to teach children around the world,” Sandison said. “Our main focus is education, health, and building peaceful communities. We do that across 20 countries with 1 millions kids on a weekly basis. It’s all done through local coaches, so we train and develop local people on the ground who understand the needs of the community. They deliver activities, whether it’s sport or games, but fun active activities for kids to participate in and learn simultaneously.”
In addition to the coaches and trainers, there are many athlete ambassadors that visit and work with different groups across the world.
Calgary captain Andrew McBride is an athlete ambassador for the RTP program and very grateful for the support of the NLL and the Roughnecks organization.
“To be able to be apart of an organization that supports what you believe in as a person, it’s great,” McBride said. “As a league, they’ve really come up and really supported it and that’s a great partnership. We have so many great lacrosse players who give back and we have so many great lacrosse players of first nations descent, that can really help some of the Right To Play programs.”
In his time with Right To Play, McBride has visited and worked for multiple programs all over the globe. Most recently, McBride spent time touring schools in St. Johns, Newfoundland.
He enjoys being apart of the program so much, that he hopes to continue being an ambassador well after he has retired from the NLL.
“From being in Benin, to visiting some of the programs in Africa, to working in the school tour in St. Johns, Newfoundland, to working in an aboriginal corrections facility in Thunder Bay, every experience has been very unique and very fulfilling,” McBride said.
“Being able to work with kids and seeing the kids eyes light up and wanting to learn more about Right To Play and wanting to give back to their school and community. It’s something that’s very humbling and I’m very honored to be an ambassador. I’m hoping to continue this for many years after my playing career is over and spreading the message of Right To Play.”
McBride is one of many athlete ambassadors with Right To Play.
Kaillie Humphries, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time World Bobsleigh Champion, is also an active ambassador.
“I think that the athletes bring a really exciting and energetic presence to Right To Play,” Sandison said. “It’s really how we’re the most visible about what it is that we do. People like Kaillie, like Andrew, who go visit programs, meet with kids and talk to them, inspire them about the true power of sport and what it can do. It’s phenomenal.”
Humphries has been apart of Right To Play for a large part of her career and really wants to help teach kids through the power of sport.
“Right from the start of my athletic career, I knew of Right To Play and it’s initiatives,” Humphries said. “We’ve always been fortunate, especially here in Canada. Sport has always been something that has been accessible and that we kind of take for granted. I was lucky enough to go to Liberia with Right To Play and see how sport teaches kids the social side and the physical side. Everything that sport has to offer.”
Sports are more than just games that people play for fun. They can take on great meaning. Humphries understands this and wants to help others experience the joy of participating in sports and games.
“Sport is something that unites people and helps you learn and develop and grow,” she said. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have that opportunity. Being able to be an athlete and express myself through sport and be able to help others do the same thing is a great honor. I’m super privileged to be able to work with a program like Right To Play.”
Humphries will not be the only athlete ambassador in attendance Friday.
She will be joined by three-time Olympian luger Sam Edney, National champion white water canoer Haley Daniels, two-time Olympian gymnast Nathan Gafulk, Olympian Eric Mitchell, Olympian and World Bobsleigh Champion Jenny Ciochetti, World Cup Gold Medalist Emily Baadsvik, 2012 Rugby Canada Player of the Year Maria Samson, and two-time Olympian and six-year CFL veteran Jesse Lumsden.
While those athlete ambassadors will be in the stands, McBride will be battling with the Roughnecks on the turf.
He’s truly grateful for the fact that playing lacrosse — the sport he loves — has enabled him to impact so many lives.
“I’m so blessed to be able to use lacrosse as my means to touch people,” McBride said. “I think Right To Play is such a great organization. Empowering kids through play to learn life lessons like leadership, being a community mentor, and giving back. It’s been so fortunate for me to be involved in this.
“Whenever you go to a school and see kids eyes lights up and want to know about Right To Play, I think you’ve done your job as an athlete ambassador.”
On March 19th, McBride presented Right To Play with a $16,000 cheque on behalf of the Calgary Roughnecks Foundation. The money was raised over a three-year span where the team donated a portion of the 50/50 draw to the charity. Today’s 50/50 draw will also have a portion going to Right To Play.
Visit RightToPlay.ca for more information on the program, ways to get involved and to donate.
“There’s all sorts of opportunities too not only donate, but to volunteer your time,” McBride said. “I know we’re going to try to make a bigger presence here in Alberta, that’s something RTP wants to do, so we’re excited to start that adventure. Just go to the website and check it out, there’s lots of different avenues and something for everyone to be able to give back and donate.”