Worried about paying for after-school sports?
Hands down, one of the best parenting decisions I’ve ever made is to get my kids involved in organized sports. It’s not about grooming them for the NHL, Team Canada or university scholarships either (although that would be nice). It’s one of the best ways that I can think of to teach them several life lessons all at once: importance of physical fitness, fair play, hard work, commitment, respect, time management and responsibility- as well as the social part of giving and receiving support from teammates.
That said, sports are expensive. For many they are prohibitively expensive. They are quickly becoming the way to divide the haves and the have-nots, which is not fair. Everyone should benefit from the lessons offered by participating in sports if they choose- team or individual.
If money is tight, don’t hang up those skates, cleats or running shoes just yet. There are a lot of ways to save money and get support in order for your kids to participate.
You’ve likely seen commercials for Canadian Tire’s JumpStart Foundation- which I think are very poignant and brutally honest. They depict kids literally on the sidelines of life- watching the others play. JumpStart works to level the playing field by removing financial barriers for kids to play sports. There are over 300 community JumpStart chapters in Canada and offer financial assistance to kids between the ages of 4 to 18. Parents simply apply and JumpStart will review the application based on family income, as well as the activity chosen (they cover a wide range of activities, so if you don’t see your kid running up the soccer field, that’s ok). Each child is covered up to a maximum of $600 a year, depending on the criteria.
Approach your association
If you’ve got a particular sport in mind, approach the association. Many associations offer financial assistance in different forms, but very often you need to inquire. Some associations offer help in actually paying team or registration fees. Lots of associations offer multi-sibling discounts, as well as deferred payment options so that you can spread the cost throughout the year.
Try to reduce other costs by buying used equipment wherever possible- or even borrowing what you can for the season. Plan to carpool so that you can save money on gas. Pack your own snacks so that you can steer your child away from the canteen/vending machine/snack bar post-game. They’ll be hungry!