2016 Paralympic Summer Games from September 7-18

From September 7-18 Brazil will host the XXV Paralympic Summer Games. This year 162 athletes will compete at the Games for Team Canada including (bullets courtesy of the Ontario Government):

  • Priscilla Gagné, a Sarnia judoka who won silver at the 2015 Parapan Am Games.
  • Whitney Bogart, a 2015 Parapan Am Games Goalball gold medalist from Thunder Bay.
  • Melanie Hawtin, Ontario’s lightning-fast wheelchair basketball player from Oakville who won silver with Team Canada at the 2015 Parapan Am Games.
  • Jason Dunkerley, the Ottawa runner who is the current Canadian record holder for the T11 800m, 1500m and 5000m.

In total there will be 4,350 athletes from more than 161 countries, and a refugee team competing in 22 sports at the XXV Paralympic Summer Games. CBC will be providing full coverage of the Games, which includes ample opportunities for viewers to stream competitions.

The Opening Ceremony begins tomorrow, September 7 at 6:30 PM with wheelchair basketball veteran David Eng as Team Canada’s Paralympic flag-bearer. This will be an incredible chance to see a variety of sports that rarely make it onto television such as wheelchair tennis, archery, athletics, boccia, cycling, equestrian, football 5-a-side, football 7-a-side, goalball, paracanoe, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball!!!!

In an interview with CBC, Chantal Peticlerc – Team Canada’s Chef de Mission, appointee to the Senate of Canada and winner of 21 Paralympic medals – recently said (and I couldn’t agree more):

The level of inspiration that Canadians and kids with disability or older people with disability can get from our athletes and the Paralympic Games is amazing. . . It inspires because it proves that it can be done … That always touches me. It’s tough for a parent of a child with disabilities, because you want them to push their limits and you want them to believe anything is possible. So they can see the Paralympic Games with all the disabilities. You’ve got visually impaired people on a bike going 100 kilometres an hour. It’s a very, very powerful human message.

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Olympic Women’s Soccer Starts Today!

Women’s soccer kicks off a few days before the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics with games beginning this afternoon and continuing all the way through to the evening (the full schedule can be seen at the following – take note of the time difference, all games are one hour ahead of Canada’s EST time zone: Olympic Soccer Match Schedule).

Broadcast times and providers will be shifting throughout the tournament so some soccer matches will not be aired by CBC. For the group stage of the tournament, you’ll be able to watch the Canada WNT time at the following times and on the following stations:

  • First match on 3 Aug at 14:00 ET/11:00 PT on CBC against Australia.
  • Second match against Zimbabwe is on 6 Aug at 14:00 ET/11:00 PT on CBC.
  • Final group stage match against Germany 9 Aug at 15:00 ET/12:00 PT on Sportsnet.

Since many of these games are in the daytime, those with full-time jobs will have to do some maneuvering. However for those with some flexibility, a few fun local recommendations if you are planning on watching at a bar or restaurant:

  • Cafe Diplomatico, Little Italy – an Italian institution with a large patio and a dozen television screens so you can watch from any angle. Calzones are dynamite.
  • Football Factory, Queen St W – they’ve got every channel you can imagine, a great patio and an atmosphere that is soccer 100% of the time.
  • Bairrada Churrasqueira, College St W – a favourite amongst the Portuguese community. The patio is incredible and the food is simple and delicious. Cheap booze too.
  • Tall Boys, Christie Pits – good for evening and weekend games, this restaurant is a craft beer haven with double patty burgers and a hipster atmosphere.

Something else I want to draw to your attention to is the Women’s Basketball schedule. Games begin on Saturday with twelve teams competing for gold. The Canada Basketball Women’s Team is fresh off a gold medal at the Pan American Games (I went to that one! It was UNBELIEVABLE! They are a force. Beat the Americans easily). They also recently held a few exhibition matches against top tier opponents as a last minute tune up before the Olympics. Don’t be surprised to see them more and more in the news as they are a rising force in women’s basketball.

This Month: CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Soccer Qualifying

Starting on February 10, the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament kicks off, with Canada competing on February 11, 14 and 16 to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil. For those unfamiliar with CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), the Confederation’s primary functions are to organize competitions for national teams and clubs, and to conduct World Cup qualifying tournaments.

The roster John Herdman has put together for the tournament looks a little different then what was seen during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. There are a number of young and veteran players who will, I imagine, need time to truly gel as a cohesive squad. CONCACAF seems like one of the best ways for Herdman to inspire a shift in the make-up and leadership of the team. Which isn’t to say that Christine Sinclair, Erin McLeod, Diana Matheson and Sophie Schmidt (to name a few) haven’t been leaders throughout their trajectory with the National Team – but it is to congratulate Herdman on developing the program for the future, and not just for the present.

The full roster for the tournament can be dissected here, and if you notice, many players who have been long-standing substitutes and/or starters are no longer part of the core group. I, for one, am excited about this. There are MANY incredible, amazing players who have been overlooked at the National level for all of the typical reasons (politics, convention, strategy, bias), but perhaps those influences are finally falling a little to the wayside.

If you’re keen to catch some (or all) of Canada’s CONCACAF matches, you can stream all Group Stage Matches on CBC Sports. The Knock-Out Stage, Semi-Finals and Final of the tournament will be broadcast live on Sportsnet One. Exciting stuff. Go Big Red Go!