Pakmen Volleyball Awarded with Historic Grant
After a memorable summer, the Mississauga Pakmen are well on their way to making Canadian volleyball history once again. This past week, it was announced that the Pakmen Volleyball Club was selected as one of three recipients for the Coach Wage Subsidy Grant under the Quest for Gold Enhanced Coaching Program. The initiative put in place by the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO) will award Pakmen with a $60,000 subsidy over a three year period, which will be used to hire a full time volleyball coach for the organization. Not only does this solidify Pakmen’s position as a prominent leader in the transition of amateur sports in Ontario, but it marks the first time in Canadian history that an amateur volleyball club will hire a full time head coach. To Pakmen this is an integral step in increasing the legitimacy and improving the perception of coaching as a full time profession in Ontario.
The CAO will partner with Pakmen Volleyball over the next three years in a joined effort to enhance the performance of Ontario athletes in National and International sporting events. The grant, which will be disbursed to the club in installments over a three year time frame, will give Pakmen an opportunity to employ an established volleyball coach to design and implement an elite comprehensive training program for select athletes.
The announcement comes after a lengthy selection process. Pakmen received overwhelming support from the Ontario Volleyball Association and Volleyball Canada in its application. The ideals of the CAO and the Pakmen Volleyball Club aligned brilliantly as the club’s primary goal moving forward was to raise the standard of amateur sports across Ontario by offering training platforms currently only offered by professional and university programs.
“We are extremely excited about this opportunity,” says Pakmen founder Kelly Smith. “This grant will not only help us better develop our players, but will raise the profile of amateur sports in Ontario.”
When it comes to development, both as a club and with respect to its players, Pakmen has been nothing short of excellent. Since being founded in 2002, Pakmen Volleyball has become Canada’s largest and most diverse youth volleyball club. Its success flows from the ground up, as it boasts the nations largest house league volleyball program for children. Additionally, it routinely sends athletes to compete in tournaments across the globe and is a heavy favorite to win nationals each year.
The mantra at Pakmen has been to introduce children to the sport at a young age and develop them. By the time some athletes reach high school, they’ve already accumulated thousands of practice hours.
“The Head Coach, whoever it may be, will play a strong role in helping us better develop our athletes at a young age,” says Smith. “A lot of potential goes to waste when players don’t get the proper training they need to excel at a young age.”
The CAO and Pakmen are hoping this initiative spurs a trend of paid amateur coaching in Ontario. In terms of athlete development at a young age, Canada falls far behind our neighbors to the south. This program is a big step in the right direction.
“Full time coaching positions are non-existent in club volleyball and Pakmen’s acceptance into this program will significantly impact this shortcoming,” says OVA Technical Director Jason Trepanier. “If successful, this program will create the first full-time club volleyball coaching position in Canada and will represent a significant step in the right direction in terms of professionalizing coaching by setting a standard that all other clubs will aspire to achieve.”
The grant is a critical first step not only for Pakmen, but also Volleyball Canada. The sports’ governing body has been behind this move for quite some time and played a strong role in the CAO’s ultimate decision.
“Establishing full time coaches within the club system is the focal point in Volleyball Canada’s vision for strengthening our long term athlete development (LTAD) model,” says James Sneddon, Volleyball Canada’s Domestic Development Director. “Pakmen Volleyball Club is leading the nation in this directive and has further committed to align with Volleyball Canada’s key criteria for High Performance Club programming including training, competition and recovery specifications.”
Whether or not Pakmen’s new coaching grant will revolutionize the way coaching and amateur sports are viewed in Ontario is something only time will tell. But we are certain that this is a key step in the right direction.