By Trevor Suffield
Jan. 29, 2009
Local bandy enthusiasts want to shed some light on their sport.
Representatives of the Bandy Federation of Canada are lobbying for funding to install four outdoor light standards at Sturgeon Creek Community Club in St. James. The total cost of the project is estimated at $200,000.
Sturgeon Creek is home to the only regulation size bandy facility in Canada. Bandy is a European game that has been described as a cross between field hockey and soccer. It's played on an ice surface that is approximately the same size as a soccer field.
Todd Ritchot, vice-president of Sturgeon Creek, said the outdoor lighting would allow the bandy facility to be utilized far more than it currently is. Right now, players can only practice during daylight hours, meaning practice time is at a premium.
Ritchot is a former bandy player and was part of the first wave of players to take up the game when it was introduced in Winnipeg 23 years ago.
The team that he played on barely scored a goal in its first tournament. More ice time would help in the development of current and future players and allow the game to grow, Ritchot said.
Ritchot was among those who lobbied to bring bandy to Sturgeon Creek when the national team was looking for a home rink three years ago. Both the mens and womens national team are now based at the community club, located at 210 Rita St.
I thought it would be a good opportunity for them to come and bring people to the club, Ritchot said. It's a national team so it would bring some recognition to the area.
Morris Glimcher, president of the Bandy Federation of Canada, is in the process of securing funding for lights at the facility.
Councillors on the Assiniboia community committee recently approved a $25,000 grant for the project. The remaining money will come from other government grants, the corporate sector and community fundraising events, Glimcher said.
We've still got a lot of work cut out for us, he said.
Certainly the ideal thing would be an artificial ice surface, but there's a big dollar figure attached to that. But if we had lights, we could certainly grow the sport and it could be a seven-day activity.
Glimcher says that additional outdoor lighting at Sturgeon Creek would also benefit local soccer and football teams because they would be able to play and practise later during their respective seasons.
Glimcher said he doesn't expect the lights to bother nearby residents, adding bandy teams will respect any light curfews.
So far there has only been one complaint about the bandy facility, Ritchot said, and that involved a local soccer devotee who thought that the bandy ice would ruin the grass underneath it.
But the grass has been greener and greener every spring, he said.
Glimcher would like to see the lighting installed by this fall so it would be ready to use next season.
The Canadian mens bandy team returned to Winnipeg earlier this week after placing second in the B pool in the world championships in VÃsterÃs, Sweden.