Three days after the closing ceremony brought an end to the 2012 Finale des Jeux de l’Acadie, Chris Frotten, the coordinator of the games, and Neil LeBlanc, president of the organizing committee, had a chance to reflect a bit on the event.
Athletes raise their arms in a salute during Canada Day celebrations held Sunday evening at the Acadian Village in Lower West Pubnico. Belle Hatfield photo
“We’re really happy to hear all the messages that we’re getting, just in the last couple of days, from parents and coaches and mission staff, the Société (des Jeux de l’Acadie), they’re all happy with how it went,” Frotten said.
Hosted by the Municipality of Argyle, the games brought together about 1,100 athletes from Atlantic Canada, along this year with an invited delegation from Alberta.
Held over several days and featuring various sports at venues throughout the Yarmouth area, the games were not just a big athletic and cultural event but also were expected to be good for the economy, given the visitors they would bring to southwestern Nova Scotia.
“We know that the hotels and things like that were booked anywhere from Digby to Barrington or Shelburne,” Frotten said. “Some people were even staying in Liverpool.”
Over 900 volunteers helped make the games a success, he said.
“The volunteers were exceptional,” he said. “There were some that were there the entire week for very long hours and they were very dedicated and very outgoing and polite to all the people and tried to help as much as they could. It didn’t matter if it was in security, the cafeteria, cleaning. Any and every thing, they were ready to do, so that helped us enormously.”
Like Frotten, Neil LeBlanc noted the important role played by volunteers. Those he spoke to, he said, said they enjoyed the experience.
“They just said ‘it was engaging, it was great,’” he said.
Also like Frotten, LeBlanc said it was nice to hear what people had to say about the games.
“The feedback we’re getting is outstanding,” he said. “They say for the games to work right, the transportation has to flow well, meals have to be furnished of quality and so forth and you also have to have a program that basically engages the young athletes and keeps them busy and motivates them. And I think that on all of those things, we just delivered bang on.”
Just feeding people, he said, was a major undertaking.
“We estimate we served between 20,000 and 22,000 meals,” he said. “We served three meals a day at three different schools, so, just in meals, it’s a huge endeavour.”
It was great, he said, to see how everyone pitched in to make the games possible, including local municipal units, the province and the federal government. The private sector came through as well, he said, offering to help any way they could, as did people with the school board and the schools etc.
“I don’t think one person, basically, said no,” he said. “That’s dedication … That’s (what) we saw all the time.”
The dedication, the hard work, all of the effort seemed to pay off, he said.
“Many people have told us it’s been their best experience ever, people who have done (the Jeux de l’Acadie) multiple times said this was just amazing, how well everything worked,” LeBlanc said. “That kind of feedback for us is really gratifying.”
Asked how they felt now that the games were over, both Frotten and LeBanc acknowledged that they had mixed emotions.
“It was an experience none of us will ever forget,” Frotten said.
Given the amount of time and work that went into getting ready for the games, he said there may have been a sigh of relief when they were finished, “but in another way it was a little sad to see it end.”
If the encouraging response from visitors is anything to go by, he said, the games hopefully might prompt them to consider coming back to the Yarmouth area for another visit.
This was the 33rd Finale des Jeux de l’Acadie and just the second time the event was held in Nova Scotia. Halifax had the games in 2008.
LeBlanc noted that the Acadian Games are about more than just sports, given their recognized importance culturally and linguistically.
“We need our young people to be engaged if we’re going to be able to maintain our language (and culture),” he said.