Centre Wellington to act as host for Senior Games this year

There will be all kinds of activities and many visitors to the area starting next month when Centre Wellington Township hosts the District 26 Seniors Games.

They will run May 24 to June 2. Organizers are expecting to see well over 600 people taking part in nearly two dozen events.

The opening and closing ceremonies will be at the Sportsplex in Fergus, with the opening ceremony May 24 at 11am and the final banquet on the last day at 5pm.

District 26 includes Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, and Woolwich, Wilmot, and Centre Wellington, and each municipality is the host every seven years.

Norma Seibert, one of the local organizers, said in an interview that the event is part of the Ontario Senior Games.

Winners will have the opportunity to move on to regional, provincial, national, and even international compe-titions.

Not all the games will be played in Centre Wellington. Five and 10-pin bowling will be done in Elmira and Guelph, with lawn bowling being hosted in Elora.

Some of the games include scrabble, shuffleboard, contract and duplicate bridge, euchre and bid euchre, table tennis, crokinole, horseshoes, darts, solo, cribbage, two walking events, including walks of 3km and 1.6km, plus nordic walking with distances of 1km and 3km.

There is also badminton, golf, snooker, and tennis.

Registrar Joan Coxhead said in an interview that she would not be surprised to see 700 people for the events this year, and noted there are not only more seniors, but many of them are more active than their age groups used to be.

She has been involved as a volunteer in Centre Wellington in 1997, 2004, and again this year, and once helped in Woolwich, and has seen the numbers of people appear to get younger every event.

She said many of the games are competitive, and noted there is even a category for those who play tennis: over age 75.

“Seniors are much younger than the previous generation,” she said. “We’re very active. We need to keep people active.”

As well, there is a new game this year, called pickle ball. It is a combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, played with a whiffle ball, and suitable for seniors who no longer feel they can compete in the tennis competition.

The Bank of Montreal  (BMO) branch in Elora and BMO Nesbitt Burns recently presented the games group with $1,500 for the event in Centre Wellington. That included $500 from the local branch.

Stan Fleming, who accepted the check on behalf of the organizers, said everyone is welcome to take part. “We’ll take anyone who wants to come,” is how he put it. “Any senior is welcome.”

Seniors are any person over age 55.

But Coxhead had one request of those who plan to compete. First, the deadline is April 26, and forms are available at Legion branches in every community involved, at those local libraries, at all seniors’ centres, and at the Sportsplex in Fergus.

Coxhead said the biggest problems organizers face are forms filled out incorrectly. She asks that everyone fill out the complete form. That includes age, sex, and the amount of registration fee.

She explained the govern-ment wants the ages of people for its statistical base, and some names give no indication of sex so that must be filled in. As well, she noted that the registration fee is $10 for the first event, of which the Ontario Senior Games Association gets the lion’s share. Subsequent events cost $6 and the local organizers receive that fee.

But, she warned, some acti-vities, such as golf and bowling, will also require payments at the venues, such as golf courses.

The registration fee is strictly to enter the games, and not necessarily taking part in the activity.

Coxwell said on April 5, she opened 60 registration forms, but for one reason or another, she could register only 25 people.

She noted that in partnership events, the partners should try to send in the registrations together, or at least attempt to mail them so they arrive at roughly the same time, because she cannot register a team until both applications are there.

In many cases, she has to call the entrants to get the missing information.

“Meanwhile, those forms are sitting there bothering me,” she said.

The mayors of all the municipalities as well as MP Michael Chong and MPP Ted Arnott are all invited to the final banquet on June 2.