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WJC legacy fund aids local hockey

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators Sports & Entertainment president Cyril Leeder, the vice-chair of the host organizing committee for the 2009 world juniors, discusses the legacy fund created in the wake of the tournament's huge success (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).

The memories will no doubt fade with time.

But the legacy of the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship figures to live on for many years to come. Certainly it's the case in Ottawa, where the benefits go way beyond the record-smashing attendance recorded in a tournament that captivated fans who took in games at Scotiabank Place and the Civic Centre.

Proof positive of that came earlier today, when administrators of the 2009 WJC Legacy Fund distributed $159,900 to 14 worthy groups under the umbrella of the Ottawa District Hockey Association, which covers an area extending from Pembroke to Cornwall and Brockville. It's merely the beginning of the disbursement of monies from a fund that totalled $497,000 after all the numbers were tabulated at the 2009 WJC's conclusion.

"It was a huge success by any standard you could use to measure it," said Senators Sports & Entertainment president Cyril Leeder, the vice-chair of the host organizing committee for the tournament. "One of the results that will help us remember this (world junior) championship fondly is the legacy fund that was created from the event."

Today's official announcement was made at the Jim Durrell Recreation Centre, the home rink of the SouthEnd Minor Hockey Association, which received $20,000 toward an endowment fund designed to assist underprivileged and disadvantaged youth.

"It's truly a marvel that the legacy fund was created to reinvest money into our communities," said Ann Mainville-Neeson, the vice-president of SouthEnd Minor Hockey. "It's not just about hockey, it's about getting our kids active. Getting them into organized sports is something that will benefit the community as a whole.

"We hope this seed money will really bear fruit and get the involvement of the community to help more kids play hockey."

That's the type of thing that attracted members of the legacy fund committee when they sifted through the first round of applications it received from various groups for financial aid.

"Preference is given to submissions that provide for an ongoing and lasting benefit for the community," said Leeder. "Secondly, (we look for) applications that are able to leverage funds from others sources so we end up with an even bigger amount of money going back into the community."

Ann Mainville-Neeson, the vice-president of SouthEnd Minor Hockey, discusses the benefits her association will receive because of funding provided by the 2009 WJC legacy fund (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
In SouthEnd's case, the minor hockey association was also able to obtain matching funding from the Hockey Night in Canada Foundation.

ODHA president Richard Waldroff said the fund is also a tribute to the efforts of the hundreds of local volunteers who played a major role in the success of the 2009 world juniors.

"The strong support of many volunteers made this event possible," he said. "The greatest way to recognize that achievement is (providing financial support) for these various projects that have come up for funding."

In addition, the 2009 WJC received strong financial backing from both the federal Conservative and Ontario Liberal governments. In the case of the latter in particular, such help was contingent on leaving a lasting legacy in the capital region.

"We saw the benefits come out of it through increased business and tourism (during the WJC) and the energy in the city, but most important is the legacy ... in terms of helping our young kids enjoy this great sport and grow in this great sport of hockey," said Yasir Naqvi, the MPP for Ottawa Centre. "This is the kind of thing we will remember way beyond 2009."

Ottawa West-Nepean MP John Baird spoke about "the great investment we're making into local sport for young people."

"We're excited about the legacy and to learn about what it will do for young people," added Baird, the federal minister for transport and infrastructure. "It will make a huge difference in their lives."

In September, the legacy fund committee will begin taking applications through the ODHA's website for the remaining $337,100 it has yet to distribute. Only members of the ODHA can apply for assistance.

"We're hoping to close the applications by the end of December and award the money by (next) February or March," said Leeder.

For a complete listing of today's funding recipients, click here.

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