Athletes and spectators from across Canada will be in Calgary over the August long weekend for the 2015 Canadian Ismaili Games. Organisers are expecting record numbers at the Canadian qualifier event for the 2016 Jubilee Games.

Athletes and spectators from across Canada will be in Calgary over the August long weekend for the 2015 Canadian Ismaili Games (CIG).

Organisers of the event expect record numbers: 1 300 – 1 500 athletes representing six regions, 1 000 volunteers and 2 500 spectators per day. In comparison, the 2011 Games had 900 registered athletes.

Faizzal Fatehali, the national lead for the Games, points to a couple of reasons for the increase.

“We’ve added new sports based on demand – we’ve added youth hockey, youth soccer, master’s soccer and a dance component, which was a huge success at the North American [Ismaili] Games,” he says.

Not only have the added sports increased the numbers, says Fatehali, but participation within each sport has grown as well. For instance, the cricket tournament has gone from four teams in 2011 to eight teams this year. Rosters in each sport are fuller too, he adds.

In addition, “it really helped that at Navroz we were able to announce the Jubilee Games in Dubai,” says Fatehali, speaking of the much anticipated international Ismaili sports tournament that will take place in the summer of 2016. The fact that many CIG sports are qualifiers for the Jubilee Games has caused participation to jump, he notes.

Members of the CIG’s organising committee, made up of seven individuals across Canada including Fatehali, have been planning the Games since January 2015. They expect the largest fan turnouts to be at the ball hockey, volleyball, soccer and cricket venues.

Also, based on the reception that the dance competition received at the 2014 North American Ismaili Games in Chicago, they are predicting high Jamati participation in Calgary, especially since it will take place during the evenings.

The closing ceremony will likely be a highlight of the Games. Set for Sunday night at BMO Centre — the city’s largest convention centre — the ceremony will be sandwiched by the women’s international volleyball final and the men’s traditional volleyball final.

Organisers expect 9 000 – 10 000 individuals to attend the grand finale.

Safia Mohamed, one of the captains of British Columbia’s women’s soccer team, says her team has been preparing for the Games for three months.

“We’ve been training really hard, our coach has put in so much time and effort that I think we’re just really excited to get there and see what we look like against other teams,” says the 22-year-old.

Aside from competing in the sports competition, Mohamed is also excited for the community aspect of the Games.

“I’m doing my master’s next year in Ontario so I’m looking forward to meeting other Ontario Ismailis,” she says.

“I think it’s really awesome that sports are now coming to the forefront of the Ismaili community. I’m a big supporter of Ismaili sports, so I’m really happy to see them becoming a big deal.”