Morden and Winkler are sharing hosting duties for another major sporting event. Next November the region will host the National Women's Under-18 Hockey Championship, a first for Manitoba.
"Maybe we could host it on our own, but we do such a better job when we do it together," Morden's Clare Agnew says, co-chair of the host organizing committee with Winkler's Jordan Driedger.
"Morden did an excellent job hosting the Esso Cup in 2017 and we are excited to work together with them on the next big event," Driedger says. "I know our volunteers will step up to the plate and our community spirit will shine through."
"We're being taken very seriously, people know what we're capable of doing and we're building a reputation for hosting big sports events, as well as our festivals," Agnew says.
The two cities are no strangers to prestigious tournaments, in 2014 Morden and Winkler together with the RM of Stanley hosted the Manitoba Games, and in 2017 Morden played host to the Esso Cup, Canada's National Female Midget Championship. Winkler has also gained experience with two premiere curling championships including the Scotties in 2015 and the Viterra Championships this February.
Next up, the organizing committee will be looking for volunteers to facilitate the event, "people love to volunteer and they love hockey so it's a pretty easy sell," Agnew says. "It's a really rewarding experience."
She notes the sponsorship drive will kick off in January. "We need the support of the business community as well," Agnew says.
The National U18 Championship is often a stepping stone to Canada's Olympic team. "It's a big tournament... the list of players that have participated in this in the past, they're Olympic champions now."
"Hockey Canada is very excited to bring this event to Morden and Winkler next fall," says Scott Smith, president and COO of Hockey Canada. "Historically, fans have had the opportunity to watch as Canada’s future superstars compete for their provinces before competing wearing the Maple Leaf at world championships and the Olympics."
Historically, the event has netted more than $1.5 million in economic impact for the host region, and as with all Hockey Canada events, net proceeds will remain locally to support the growth of the game.
The National Women’s Under-18 Championship is held every year (excluding years where the Canada Winter Games take place), and features teams representing provinces and regions across the country. Ontario teams have won each of the 12 gold medals, while the host Manitobans will be looking to add a first national title to their two silver and three bronze medals.