More volunteers helping Natives, however financial stumbling blocks remain


By: Lanny Stewart

After a community awareness meeting last week, Neepawa Natives president Dave McIntosh says the club has seen an increase in volunteers, however financial issues continue to hinder the future of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League club.

“We had lots of volunteers come forward, but the financial issues have to be addressed,” said McIntosh, who was a guest on Monday Sports Talk on 880 CKLQ. He says more supporters are needed and that the club is also currently in the midst of formulating a plan moving forward in an effort to increase financial support – this includes possibly getting donations from people who want to keep the hockey club in town. Net losses have piled up and in 2013-2014, the team recorded a net loss of more than $51,000.

“We need to get our line of credit down. That’s what we really need to do and the only way we can do that is to probably start with some well-meaning people who are willing to give us some money to pay our debt down.

“If we have room in our line of credit, then we can move forward and let the fundraising kick in,” he continued.

McIntosh says a crop project – a fundraising idea which could generate a significant amount of revenue and was a hotly debated topic at the community meeting – has yet to get off the ground. A project of this nature would see the organization acquire farmland in or around the Neepawa area and for volunteers to plant and look after the crops during the summer, with proceeds from the harvest going to the Natives.

“What we need is we need a plot of land to put a crop into,” he said. “There’s a few teams in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League who have crop projects. They do very well on them.”

He says if the club were able to begin said project sometime soon, then the chances the club remains sustainable in the community increase dramatically.

“I’m really comfortable that we can be creative enough and work hard enough to make enough money to sustain the hockey club, but we really need that plot of land,” he added.

“We have some people who are working in that direction [crop project], but nothing is on the dotted line yet. In that respect, it’s a little discouraging. I was hoping we would’ve had that by now.”

McIntosh recently attended an MJHL board of governors meeting where he talked to the teams who currently have crop projects and came away even more intrigued by the idea.

“Some [crop projects] do very well and some are marginal, but that’s based on the kind of land that they [teams] get,” he said.

While at the meeting, McIntosh let it be known the club’s current state of affairs and believes a few board members of other teams in the MJHL were taken aback by the news.

“I think there was quite a few surprised governors there when I had to tell [them] that the future of our hockey club is in jeopardy,” he said. “That was tough. Obviously they were all very keen on listening to what we were trying to do to keep the hockey club going in Neepawa.

“They’re [board members of other MJHL teams] looking forward to us staying in the league. My personal opinion is that we can make this happen.”

If you’re interested in helping support the Natives and their efforts in keeping the team in Neepawa for the long term, contact McIntosh at 204-476-6007, Myles Cathcart at 204-841-1555, or Cam Tibbett at 204-841-3060.