Published October 10, 2023 at 6:39 PM ET
Girls from all over Ottawa heard from female leaders and role models in sports on Tuesday, all while having the opportunity to try new activities and sports.
Tuesday was “Sports Day, Girls Style” at TD Place. Seven hundred girls from fourth to eighth grade participated in activities such as lacrosse, soccer, rugby, and boxing.
“It’s pretty cool because I’ve never done this before, so to get a professional to do it is really cool,” says Hazel, who took part in the hands-on training, guided by Mandy Bujold, a two-time Canadian Olympic boxer who competed in the Pan Championships. -I am the gaming champion.
“At the moment I’m only skating, so I’ll be able to do more sports,” says Hazel.
It was a day to experience activities and hear from outstanding female Olympians and athletes.
“We’re here to empower young girls, like, you can participate in sports, even if right now there aren’t a lot of girls out there, representing the sport, it’s still okay to participate and you can then be a leader in the sport,” Bujold says.
“And if we can start at that age discovering all the good things, and what are the things I’m good at, I think that’s the one thing I want them to get out of it,” says Fabian Blizzard, OUA and CEBL basketball coach and Hall of Fame basketball player.
The theme of the event is empowerment.
“For me, it’s just about learning empowerment through sport, and that connection…just girls growing up and knowing that they can do anything a boy can do, anything they put their mind to,” says Brianna Hennessy, a Canadian para-athlete. And a rugby player in a wheelchair.
“We want to recruit and retain girls in sport, and this is an opportunity to spark their interest in sport and all it has to offer,” says Janice Parisi, of the OSEG Foundation.
This event comes at a time when women’s sports are growing significantly. Recently, Ottawa was selected as one of six cities to get a professional Women’s Hockey League team.
“Knowing we have a team here in Ottawa with the PWHL is pretty special,” said keynote speaker Jamie Lee Rattray.
Rattray, an Ottawa native and Olympic hockey champion, also plays in the PWHL, having been drafted by Boston.
“I hope when I come here as a visitor, this rink will be full of girls like this and cheerleaders,” she said.
“Having a day like this, or maybe meeting some new friends or just being active and playing different sports, is really great – I think it’s a great thing for young kids to be a part of, especially little girls.”
"It's pretty awesome because I've never done this before, so getting a professional to do this is really nice," says Hazel, who went 'hands-on', guided by Mandy Bujold, a Canadian Olympic boxer and two-time Pan-Am games champion.
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"Right now, I just do figure skating, so I'll be able to do more sports," Hazel says.
It was a day of trying activities and listening to female Olympians and high-profile athletes.
"We are here to empower the young girls, like, hey, you can get involved in sport, even if right now there is not a lot of girls there, representing that sport, that it's still ok to get involved and you can then be a leader in that sport," says Bujold.
"And if we can start at this age to figure out all the good things, what are the things that I'm good at, I think that's the one thing I want them to get out of it," says Fabienne Blizzard, OUA and CEBL basketball coach and Hall of Fame basketball player.
The event's theme is empowerment.
"For me, it's just learning that empowerment through sport, that connectivity… just girls growing up knowing that they can do anything that a boy can do, anything that they set their mind to," says Brianna Hennessy, a Canadian paracanoesist, parakayaker, and wheelchair rugby player.
"We want to recruit and retain girls in sport, and so this is an opportunity to get them excited about sport and all it has to offer," says Janice Barresi, with the OSEG Foundation.
The event, comes at a time when women's sport is growing exponentially. Most recently, Ottawa was named one of six cities to get a Professional Women's Hockey League team.
"Knowing that there's a team here in Ottawa with the PWHL is pretty special," said keynote speaker Jamie Lee Rattray.
Rattray, an Ottawa native and Olympic hockey champion, is also playing in the PWHL, having been drafted by Boston's team.
"Hopefully when I come here as a visitor, this rink is full of girls like this and cheering on," she said.
"Having a day like this, maybe meeting some new friends or just getting active and playing different sports, is something really cool – I think it's a great thing for young kids to be a part of, and especially young girls."-->