The 2014 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) are still almost 700 days away. But officials with the NAIG Council, the governing body for the games, believe it's never too early to start creating a bit of a buzz for the multi-sport competition that will be staged in Regina, Saskatchewan.
As a result, for the first time ever, the NAIG Council has launched its own website, www.naigcouncil.com, to promote the games.
Besides a fancy countdown clock to the Regina event, the website also includes NAIG Council news and releases, a section on the history of the games as well as any pertinent information about the upcoming competitions.
"We just want to improve the communication with the general public and with the youth that the games represent," said Norman Ettawacappo, the NAIG Council co-ordinator.
The NAIG Council has also created a Facebook page and a Twitter feed to promote the 2014 games. Both of these can be accessed through the new website.
Ettawacappo, who lives in Winnipeg, will be responsible for updating all of the NAIG Council's website, Facebook and Twitter activities. And he's hoping these new lines of communication will eventually help to generate some revenue. By having plenty of website hits, Facebook likes and Twitter followers, Ettawacappo believes potential advertisers will come on board once they see the support being received.
"It's mostly for communication and also to help generate some revenues," he said of the new NAIG Council ventures.
About 5,000 athletes from across Canada and the United States are expected to participate in the Regina games. In addition to that there will be about 1,000 individuals who will serve as coaches or support staff. Athletes at the games will range in age from 13-19. They will compete in 15 sports.
Those sports are archery, athletics (track and field), badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, canoeing, golf, lacrosse, rifle shooting, soccer, softball, swimming, volleyball and wrestling. The first NAIG were held in Edmonton in 1990.
Though the plan was to stage the games every three years, alternating between a Canadian and American host city, this hasn't quite worked out. The 1993 games were also held in Canada, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. And then two years later the games were staged for the first time in the U.S., in Blaine, Minnesota.
The games were held again two years later, in 1997, in Victoria, British Columbia. Following that there was a five-year gap until the next competition, in 2002 in Winnipeg. The games returned to the U.S. for just the second time in 2006, when they were held in Denver. And the last games were staged in Cowichan, British Columbia in 2008.
The 2011 games, which were supposed to be held in Milwaukee, were cancelled after the host society backed out of its offer to stage those games. Since an alternative site could not be found in time, it was agreed to stage the next games in 2014 in Regina. Ettawacappo believes the Regina event will be well received.
"I think so in part because there has been quite a gap between 2008 and the next games," he said.
By launching its website in early August, the NAIG Council is a step ahead of the host society from Regina, which does not have a games website of its own up yet. Ettawacappo said officials from the Regina host society, who were awarded the 2014 games in May of 2011, have been concentrating on the numerous technical aspects required for the games.
"The host society doesn't have their website yet," he said. "But it should be operational within the next few months."