The Cowichan Bulldogs’ Ben Wilson runs the 40-yard dash during the Vancouver Island football combine at McAdam Park on Oct. 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

The Cowichan Bulldogs’ Ben Wilson runs the 40-yard dash during the Vancouver Island football combine at McAdam Park on Oct. 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Island football players meet in Cowichan for combine

48 players test their skills in bid for provincial programs

Football players from across Vancouver Island gathered at Duncan’s McAdam Park on Sept. 24 for the first step toward making the 2021 provincial teams.

The five-hour combine gave nearly 50 young athletes a chance to show what they can do as the B.C. Provincial Football Association starts the process of whittling down numbers for the U16, U17 and U18 provincial teams.

“Virtually every football program on the Island was represented by at least one player,” Cowichan Bulldogs coach PJ Shea explained. “Including those playing for their high school, as well as those competing for their community football teams.”

Participants were tested in the 40-yard dash, pro-shuttle, broad jump and bench press, as well as football drills and techniques.

“The scores will be utilized to rank and identify those athletes earning the right to continue in the selection process,” Shea related. “Those moving forward will participate in further testing and development in the coming months, culminating in an intraprovincial league, from which the final Team BC rosters will be selected.”

Coaches for the combine also represented community and high school programs from across the Island.

For the athletes, the combine offered a valuable opportunity to get on the field when most football activity has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These players have needed a strong football outlet after so much time away from the sport,” Shea said.

“The combine gave them a safe means to scratch their football itch, and display all the work that they have been doing in the extended off-season.”

After earning the right to host the first combine, Cowichan will continue to be the location for any future BCPFA provincial programs on the Island. The next stage is likely to take place in January or February.

The Cowichan Valley Football Association had four players make provincial teams last year, the second most of any single football program in B.C.

Cowichan Valley Citizen

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