Soccer

Soccer is one of the 32 sports featured at the BC 55+ Games, which get underway Tuesday in Kelowna.

David Graham is on the hunt for anyone with a Class 2 or Class 4 drivers' licence, or who has experience overseeing competitive swimming events.

Graham, president of the Kelowna 2019 55+ Games, says most of the 1,200 volunteers needed to stage the competition, which begins Tuesday, are in place.

"But we'll take anyone who wants to volunteer right up to the last minute," Graham said. "Volunteers are the lungs, heart, and soul of the Games."

In particular, he said, drivers are needed to man the network of buses that will transport 4,200 competitors around the Central Okanagan.

"And it turns out there's a big swim meet happening outside Kelowna, so most of the local people who are qualified to officiate swimming aren't available to us," he said. "When we heard that, we were like, 'What?!' But we don't control the scheduling of these things."

In all there are 32 sports, with the most competitors, at more than 400 each, in hockey, pickleball, and dragon boating. As the name implies, competitors must be at least 55 though it's expected at least a few will be in "the second half of their 90s", Graham said.

Triathlon makes its first appearance at the Games, but attempts to organize an open-water swim across Okanagan Lake weren't successful.

In addition to the athletic events, there are slower-paced competitions such as darts, lawn bowling, snooker, whist, and bridge.

Some competitors are former elite athletes who featured at the national and international level.

"On the other hand, far and away the largest number of competitors are people who just enjoy their chosen sport, like keeping active, and value the social aspect it provides," said the 70-year-old Graham, who was a recreation and leisure director for the City of Kelowna before his retirement.

About one-quarter of all Games competitors will represent Zone 5, which encompasses the Okanagan. Other large contingents come from Vancouver and Victoria, but all regions of the province are represented. The five-day event is estimated to have a a $3 million economic impact.

The Games Village opens this afternoon at the CNC on Gordon Drive, with competitions beginning on Wednesday and the opening ceremonies set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Prospera Place.