NCCH Position Statement
Re: NCIM and Mattamy Velodrome
Good evening. My name is Ward Black and I am here as board President of the NCCH. The NCCH is a legacy program from the 2003 world championships with a mandate to support the expansion of cycling as a sport and a focus on youth recruitment and development. We are one of the largest and most successful youth programs in Ontario and have introduced hundreds of children to the sport and developed several athletes to pro careers.
Developing high level athletes is very challenging but introducing new entrants is even more difficult. We have been successful by taking a direct and aggressive recruiting strategy through the school systems and ensuring our focus is firmly on new opportunities rather than existing athletes in other programs. It is our belief that the only sustainable path forward is for programs to focus on new entrants to the sport and not look to other programs as a recruiting strategy.
We believe that a rising tide raises all boats. We share our best practices with other programs and take an active role in helping programs like Morning Glory’s youth program to develop. We see this as the only way to move the sport forward to become a desired destination for young athletes when they are considering us against alternatives such as soccer, baseball and hockey. We recognize that young people view us as an “old men in Lycra” sport and work tirelessly to dispel that myth and develop critical momentum amongst youth that will ultimately benefit us all.
In that spirit we would like to help NCIM, the Milton Velodrome and the sport in general to succeed. In their success we see an easier path to our own success. We don’t know yet, how to help NCIM because we were not able determine if they are a colleague or competitor. We are now made aware that they are an independent not-for-profit with an ambition to develop similar to a lot of the youth programs in Ontario such as ourselves.
Our experience, to date, with the velodrome has been challenging. We have experienced recruitment attempts on our athletes, which we feel is a strategic error for the sport. We have been informed that none of the optimum time for youth development will be made available to youth development programs outside the “in house” programming. The time that was initially made available to us was made increasingly difficult to acquire in the subsequent year. As a program that consistently maintains a training roster of between 100 and 150 youth, we can maximize our track time. What we seem to have seen from the existing local programs is an inability to maximize all of the youth track time they are allotted and are squandering an opportunity that another program could make use of. Their solution seemed to be prosthelytizing existing athletes to attempt to fill those slots which does not expand the sport or provide value.
It is our belief that it is in the best interest to the sport and the taxpayer that we work collaboratively with the velodrome to maximize the available time. We believe that NCIM, as an independent organization, should be treated on the same standard as all other independent organizations in a tax payer funded facility. We believe that track time should be allocated equitably amongst the various programs in existence who want to rent it. It is our belief that up to 350 youth could be accommodated during optimum training times across as many as 7 different organizations. We believe the programs should collaborate on best practices on recruiting youth in their respective communities so that we have common, successful messaging across the broadest footprint. We believe that, in time, this is the best method to sustain the velodrome and give us all an opportunity to collectively grow the sport. Eventually, we believe, this will elevate the sport to a point where we can make compelling arguments to our various communities that the sport is large enough to sustain additional facilities.
We believe the velodrome offers the sport of cycling a tremendous opportunity at a time when we seem to be gaining momentum with youth. We do not want to see it experience the same fate as the Montreal Velodrome and believe that together we can find a way for us all to succeed in our goals.