Statement: AthletesCAN Commends Federal Government’s Renewed Commitment to High Performance Athletes

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 — OTTAWA — AthletesCAN released the following statement in reaction to the 2015 federal budget:

“On behalf of Canadian national team athletes, we applaud the Government of Canada’s commitment to sport in the 2015 federal budget,” said Josh Vander Vies, President of AthletesCAN and London 2012 Paralympic bronze medalist in Boccia.

“We are particularly interested in the innovative proposal announced that will match up to twenty million dollars in private contributions over four years to one of the most underfunded groups in Canadian sport – up and coming high performance athletes. Supporting athletes and their families, early in their athletic careers is critical to a thriving sport system,” said Vander Vies.

“Our dedicated national team athlete leaders are honoured to have worn the maple leaf while competing across the world. We believe that sport is an integral part of Canadian culture, and we look forward to consulting with the Government of Canada to ensure that this funding is used effectively.”


AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, is the only fully independent and most inclusive athlete organization in the country and the first organization of its kind in the world.  As the collective voice of Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN ensures an athlete centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture.

Silver Stings in Brazil

The Brazilian Boccia Championships came to a close last night and I am still feeling the sting of silver.  Here is something most athletes already know: winning bronze feels better than losing gold.

We had a great tournament in Maringá, Brazil.  The national association, ANDE, invited some Canadians to come and compete in their nationals, learn from each other and push both of our programs forward.  Marco and I were honoured to do just that over the past few days.

We competed in singles and doubles against great Brazilian athletes we have seen before at the Americas’ Cups, Parapanamerican Games, World Championships and Paralympic Games.  What was even better was to meet with new athletes, athletes we had met before, competition organizers, referees and politicians.  ANDE had the excellent idea to provide us with translators while we were here, so we could truly meet everyone – thank you to Melanie and Felipe who were excellent!

With our great social and cultural experience here and the political issues swirling around events like Sochi 2014, Rio 2014 and 2016, I am becoming convinced that athletes are the real diplomats.

My Results

Singles: 8th | Doubles: Silver

In the singles event, I won my two pool games, advanced to the round of 16 and won.  Unfortunately for me, the draw put me with world #1 Eliseu Dos Santos in the round of 8.  The match started off solidly with me scoring a hard fought 1 point in the first end. It ended solidly too, with me keeping him to a single point against me in the last end.  But, Eliseu showed why he is world #1 in the 2nd and third ends, scoring 4 and 2 points respectively – beating me 7 – 1.  I was knocked out, but happy that Marco beat world #2 Dirceu Pinto on the court beside me 3 – 2 and it was great to watch him win bronze on Saturday morning.

Doubles was a sudden death elimination format.  While we didn’t play perfectly, Marco and I were in control for the entire tournament, which we loved.  In the final against a Sao Paulo team led by Eliseu Dos Santos, we were outplayed and came up short by one point.  Elite sport is not just about, winning, setting goals and achieving them though.  Our system and playing style is ramping up and we can’t wait to test it again soon.

A gruelling week is now topped off with 36 hours of travel back to Canada.  I can’t wait to get home and see Dalia, Karolis and Olivia.

Paralympian Josh Vander Vies Raises Over $7,000 for Canadian Boccia Team



VANCOUVER, September 11, 2013 – London 2012 Paralympic bronze medalist in boccia BC4 mixed pairs and UBC Law student, Josh Vander Vies, hosted an innovative fundraising event on August 29 – the Boccia Throwdown.  So far, it has raised $7,360 in much-needed funds for his Canadian Boccia Team, while rallying the community to support them as they take on the world.

“Being an elite athlete is expensive,” said Vander Vies, “and while many of our costs are covered by our National Sport Organization (NSO), our team still needs to find more than $22,000 from our own pockets this year to compete for Canada.  Along with our own living and training expenses, that means we have to rely on our friends, families and communities to keep roofs over our heads and healthy food on our tables.  It felt great to know I had amazing people behind me when I was on the Paralympic courts in London, and I was proud to support my teammates through this fun event, building an even stronger foundation for our future”.

The money raised will also fuel competitions, training opportunities, equipment, sport science and other needs of the Canadian team as they head towards Rio 2016.  Champions in Sport, a Vancouver-based foundation for athletes and NSOs, powered the logistics of the Boccia Throwdown.  Moksha Yoga East Vancouver, Hootsuite, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, Anthony Seamen Ltd., Charity Express, Benefic, Peer Giving Solutions and Investors Group sent teams to battle each other at Creekside Community Centre in indoor boccia action, raising funds for Canada’s best boccia players.

“Investors Group considers it an honour to support Canada’s elite athletes like Josh Vander Vies through our Investors Group Bursary program,” said Sharon Moskalyk, Vice President, Financial Services.  “When the opportunity presented itself to be a part of a community fundraiser like the Boccia Throwdown for one of our bursary recipients, we were thrilled to participate.  Challenging the other team is great fun when you have Josh as your partner and coach!”

Boccia is a precision sport, similar to lawn bowling, curling and chess, played indoors in over 50 countries and is one of the three Paralympic sports that do not have an Olympic counterpart.  It is one of the most inclusive sports that exist: an elegant game that combines strategy and skill with physical precision, not necessarily strength.

The Boccia Throwdown also enjoyed significant online donations from fans that could not attend or simply spectated.  Maria Senajova, Realtor at RE/MAX Crest Realty Westside said, ”when I saw Canada’s top boccia players in action and the precise skill it takes to be the best in the world, I felt pride knowing they live in my community and with our support they go beyond their limits and beyond our own. I’ve gained a new appreciation for our Canadian elite athletes; supporting them is such an honour.  I am already looking forward to the next Throwdown”.

Online donations will remain open at until September 19 at 1pm when Vander Vies will announce the total funds raised at a small ceremony at Suite 1250 – 1500 West Georgia Street; the media is invited and encouraged to attend.


PHOTOS – click link for high definition.  Please credit: “Photo: Champions in Sport”


Canadian athletes from the national boccia, women’s field hockey, and athletics teams face-off in indoor boccia as team “Jack Smashers” against team “Drunken Debocciery” from Benefic, Peer Giving Solutions and Charity Express.  Photo: Champions in Sport
A player from Moksha Yoga East Vancouver’s “Todd and the Hot Toddies” team has fun planning her shot as Hootsuite’s team “FunBoys” looks on.  Photo: Champions in Sport
Paralympic bronze medalist Josh Vander Vies takes time to pose mid-game with his opponents, after being challenged to a match by members of the Canadian women’s field hockey team.

8 Teams Confirmed So Far for Boccia Throwdown!

The countdown is on.  8 teams have taken on the fundraising and impending indoor boccia challenge – to help fuel the Canadian Boccia Team to international podiums.  There are only 8 days left to either throw your hat in the ring (boccia court!) by signing up a team of up to 6, or donating online to support the Boccia Throwdown! or individual teams.

You can team-up with the Canadian Boccia Team three ways:

1. Share this blog post with your social media networks.
2. Form a team of up to 6 players and party with us on August 29 from 5-7pm at 1 Athletes Way Vancouver.  Register here.
3. Donate to one of the teams below and help them chase top fundraiser glory, or to the event itself.  Keep scrolling for details.

Apparently boccia team names allow for some serious creativity.  We on the national team thought we had all of the boccia ball puns locked down and figured out!  Think again.  If you like one of these team names, or the people and businesses powering them, click and donate online – “Chimp them” – and get an online tax receipt automatically.

Each team has to raise $500 to compete.  Eternal glory is up for grabs to the winner of the indoor boccia tournament, and the top fundraiser.  Here are the competitors in order of entry.

Mission Imbocceball

Canadian Sport Institute Pacific


Foxy Boccia Dolls and Balls



Total Debocciery

Anthony-Seaman Ltd. – Sawmill Consulting Engineers





Todd and the Hot Toddies

Moksha Yoga East Vancouver


Love is a Boccia Field

Access Driver Rehab Specialists


Wham Bam Thank You Ham



Drunken Deboccery

Benevoland: Peer Giving, Charity Express, and Benefic


Can’t decide which team gets your donation?

Click this photo of members of the Canadian Boccia Team on the podium at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico – one of our best tournaments ever – to donate to the event itself. We want even more amazing medal moments like these.