With the Saskatchewan Winter Games just a couple of weeks away, athletes from the southeast are getting ready to compete for their region.

Team Southeast held a pep rally on Sunday and Chef De Mission Tara Heslip says the squad is getting excited for the event, which runs Feb. 19-25 in Regina.

"The excitement level has really amped up, and seeing all the athletes and coaches and managers in their walk out uniforms, you could see the excitement and the smiles build through the day," Heslip said. "I know they're all very busy training and getting to know each other as teams."

The games were originally planned for last February but had to be pushed back a year due to the pandemic.

Team Southeast has about 140 participants this year, including athletes, coaches, and managers from areas like Estevan, Weyburn, and Moosomin.

"I have a feeling we have some pretty strong athletes in mixed curling, we have a wonderful target shooting team as well," Heslip said. "And you just never know who might surprise you."

Heslip added that the competition is a wonderful experience for the young athletes, who range from age 10 to 18.

"I think for so many, it's really a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I'm sure that if you talked to a few of them, they wouldn't think they would actually have a chance. And they're just so looking forward to this opportunity and being a part of the team," Heslip said. "They're looking to improve their skill and make new friends and do their personal best, and of course hope to earn a medal as well."

"It is part of the long term athlete development model that the Games Council looks at, with the hope that some of these athletes will progress to Western Canada and Canada Games and potentially the Olympics," she added. "But just being able to have that exposure to a multi game experience, and I think there really is a lot of benefit not only for developing you physical skills, but also your mental skills and endurance to participate in these type of games."

There will be nine district teams competing at the Sask Games this year, including one team from Regina and one from Saskatoon.