There are sports, sociable games, arts, and crafts. And above all, there's plenty of fun to be had.

Participation has always been the major thrust of Alberta 55 Plus Sports and winning medals is a bonus.

The Cochrane area is part of Zone 2, better known as Big Country, and qualifiers are now underway for the Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games being hosted by Brooks from Aug. 17 to 20. 

Zone 2 director Doug Campbell invites anyone 55 and over to sign up. Events are all designed to ensure you'll be playing among your peers. The youngest age group is 55-plus, and the oldest is 85-plus.

"Our mission is to get people off the couch," says Campbell. "It's for our athletic, social and emotional well-being, and it gets people out and involved. The competitive aspect is a small portion of it, and a big portion of it is fun games, socialization, and participation."

"Having many seniors isolated during the last three years at COVID, it's a great way to get out and reconnect with people."

With so many newcomers to the Cochrane area, it's also an opportunity to meet people and create a social network.

Campbell has been involved in 55 Plus Sports for well over a decade and he also organizes the largest seniors bonspiel in southern Alberta right here in Cochrane. He says like 55-Plus Sports, the aim of the bonspiel is to spend time with your peers and create new friendships. 

"It's really good to see them meet each other and fairly quickly integrate into the local social groups, coffee clubs, and sporting activities."

With a total of 16 events at the summer games, qualifiers have already been held for 8-ball pool, contract bridge, and cribbage. Plenty more stretch into June.

Three of the qualifiers are being held in Cochrane, and coming up right away is floor shuffleboard. Cochrane's Seniors on the Bow, located on the second floor of the SLS Family Sports Centre, is hosting the event on Mar. 25 and the registration deadline is this Saturday (Mar. 18). Campbell says they may be able to accommodate a few late entries but be prompt; the draw will be finalized shortly.

bocceCochrane is hosting the bocce qualifier on May 13. (file photo)

Cochrane is hosting the 3.5+ pickleball qualifier on Apr. 29 and bocce qualifier on May 13.

Other upcoming qualifiers include: swimming, Apr. 4, Calgary; military whist, Apr. 13, Strathmore; cornhole, Apr. 15, Strathmore; and golf, May 25, Turner Valley.

The dates and locations haven't been finalized, but the horseshoes qualifier is in April, track and field and cycling in May, and slo-pitch in June.

All that's required to participate is an Alberta 55-Plus membership. The annual membership is $40 and opens the door to fun activities as well as qualifiers in up to 32 sporting events (summer and winter), plus many arts and crafts categories (painting, woodworking, needlework, creative writing, photography).

Alberta 55 Plus Sports also holds winter games every other year featuring 16 events. The next one is in 2024, and qualifiers will begin in late 2023, early 2024.

The Big Country Seniors Sports Society stretches east to west from the SK to BC borders, with Sundre, Olds, and Three Hills on its northern boundary, and Longview, High River, Gleichen and east along the South Saskatchewan River forming the southern boundary.

The best way to get the full scoop is to head here, then click the Zone 2 tab.