July 3, 2020

Cambridge woman to help grow sports on small Caribbean island Featured


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77e3798bb9782084333898c5f75d9aab_XLWritten by Theo Chambers

CAMBRIDGE — Aimee Maggiacomo was excited to be travelling to the Caribbean for the first time, and it wasn’t for a vacation.  The 23-year-old Cambridge native left recently for the small island of Anguilla and began an 11-month stay working with the Anguilla Commonwealth Games Association.

Maggiacomo, who graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2011 with a degree in kinesiology and physical education, is one of nine young sport leaders from across Canada who are travelling internationally this year as part of Commonwealth Games Canada’s SportWORKS initiative.

The five-year-old program sends young Canadians to assist Commonwealth Games Associations and National Olympic Committees in various countries in building their sport capacity through activities such as programming, fundraising, communications and team management.

Christine Wong, a Toronto native and graduate of the University of Waterloo’s recreation and leisure studies program, will be working with the Antigua and Barbuda Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association.

“I’ve been feeling every emotion because it’s such big adventure, but ultimately I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity,” Maggiacomo says. “When I tell people I get to live in a different country for a year and do what I want to be pursuing in my career, it’s truly an honour to participate in the program.”

After completing a one-year sport management and business program at Algonquin College in 2012, Maggiacomo started looking for job postings and came across the SportWORKS initiative.

She could have applied for a posting in any one of nine specific countries, but decided to leave herself open to any opportunities.

“Personally, I just felt that wherever my skill set was best correlated to help an organization would be the perfect fit for me,” says Maggiacomo, who will have her living expenses covered by the host organization. “Because, ultimately, I will give to them as much as they will give to me, so I want to be in a situation where I can contribute as much as I can.”

Antigua is a tiny island of 91 square kilometres in the northern Caribbean. It has a population of about 15,000 people.

This trip wasn’t the first time Maggiacomo has travelled abroad to volunteer her services.

In February 2010, she spent 10 days in Bolivia with fellow students from The Embassy church in Waterloo. The group built a laundry room for a home for infants and toddlers, and also provided programming for an all-girls home.

“That trip actually made me realize how I could use my passion for sport and physical activity from my kinesiology degree and use it in more of a development capacity,” Maggiacomo says. “It’s where I got the idea I may want to pursue something related to international development through sport.”

Whilst she didn”t know how exactly she would be helping the Anguilla Commonwealth Games Association until she arrived, a three-day training session in Ottawa last month had her fully prepared.

“They’ve done an exceptional job of preparing us for what to expect, as well as teaching us how to prepare ourselves,” she said before she left.

The biggest challenge Maggiacomo expecteds, aside from the initial adjustment to a new culture, is the speed of work.

“Eleven months is a long time, but in the grand scheme of an organization and everything that needs to be done, it’s not a lot of time at all,” she saids “But it’s been very comforting having that open dialogue and knowing they’re interested in my visit and are just as excited as I am.”

Maggiacomo expects that the experience will help her find a career she’ll find satisfying.

“I know 100 per cent that I want to be involved in building communities, whether it’s in an international setting or local community environment,” she said. “But definitely utilizing the power of sport and physical education to break down barriers, build communities and grow countries, whether it’s from an economic standpoint for what sport has to offer, or just creating opportunities for children.”


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