Esports pilot now in-person after successful launch.

kids playing video games

After a successful season of virtual tournaments, esports is back at YMCA Calgary. Only this time, Calgary youth will meet and compete in person.

Registration is now open for the in-person pilot that will see live tournaments at Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge and Brookfield Residential YMCA at Seton. The first tournament is slated for Jan. 20.

Arron Pitre, Esports Supervisor, says no one is more excited about the addition of in-person tournaments than the youth. During the virtual launch, Pitre developed a community server on our gaming platform where participants could connect online between tournaments. From weekly game development sessions that see youth create their own video games to fun digital hangouts, the 33 members have created a tight-knit community around esports with YMCA Calgary at the centre.

“We’re all eager to build a physical connection to esports. Until now, everything has been remote and online. Having that physical element will be super grounding and a pinnacle point for our program,” says Pitre. “A community member reached out to me during our Friday hangout to say that, in the first tournament, he made a friend. Now, they hang out and play games together. It’s awesome to see new relationships like this in our community.”

Tournaments this winter will bring together small groups of youth to compete in age-appropriate games, including Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Grant Fuels Innovation
Tanya Connelly-Scott, Vice President of Experience at YMCA Calgary, says the move to in-person is made possible thanks to a $40,000 YMCA Canada Innovation grant.

“We’re honoured to have the support of YMCA Canada to help move our esports pilot forward,” says Connelly-Scott. “When we launched the pilot, we hoped to break down the stigma surrounding video game culture and show how gaming and esports can have a positive impact on youth when done in a safe environment. The grant from YMCA Canada goes a long way to support programming designed to meet the needs of youth in Calgary.”

The Igniting Potential Grant is a YMCA Canada initiative designed to encourage innovated ideas with potential for replication across Canada.

“We are excited about the potential of YMCA Calgary’s esports program to extend the YMCA’s reach and have more of a significant impact for individuals in the communities we serve,” says Peter Dinsdale, President and CEO of YMCA Canada.

Limited spots are available for in-person and online esports tournaments this winter. For more information about the pilot, upcoming tournaments and to register, visit YMCA Calgary online at

In the media: 

Calgary YMCA eSports pilot looks at league system with in-person tournaments | LiveWire Calgary

Young Calgary esports competitors to play in-person tournaments | CTV Calgary

Esports event promotes community among gamers | CTV Calgary

YMCA Esports: What's next for the program | Global News