BY IAN THORPE
It’s time to put on the cleats, because the spring season for local youth football is just about to kick off on a pair of fronts.
Football Nanaimo has a rich history in our city that goes back over 50 years, but this season brings some exciting changes. The community non-profit organization based in north Nanaimo recently announced a change in team name, colours and uniforms. The new team name is Football Nanaimo Seahawks, designed to reflect west coast heritage as well as our proximity to the NFL’s Seattle franchise.
Heading up Football Nanaimo this year is president Dan Fraser, assisted by vice-president/registrar Wanda Currie. Kailee Mann is secretary and Carlie Krampl the treasurer.
The organization actually runs two seasons: spring tackle which is concentrated on development and the fall season which is more competitive. Online registration is now open for the upcoming spring youth football season, with teams being formed in three age categories. Atoms (born 2010-12) can register for $120, while both pee wee (born 2008-09) and junior bantam (born 2006-07) players will pay $150. The registration fee includes all necessary equipment except for football cleats. All teams will practise on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m., with practices and home games at May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park on Dover Road. The season will run from the final weekend in March until the end of June.
This coming Sunday, March 1, a free non-contact skills and drills camp open to boys and girls will be held at Pioneer Park from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. It’s a great opportunity for returning players to get some practice and for new players thinking of joining to learn about the program, meet the coaches and participate in some drills. The camp will feature players and coaches from the V.I. Raiders club and will be led by junior bantam head coach Ethan Schulz from the Raiders. Advanced registration for the clinic can be done online and onsite registration will be held at the field on Sunday starting at 10:30 a.m. Also on tap is a quarterback camp for players aged 8-14, to be held March 8 at Pioneer, from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Another very successful youth football program operates at the other end of town. The South-Side Minor Football Association has its headquarters at the Dawg House facility at John Barsby Secondary on Bruce Avenue. For many years now, the popular organization has been very successful in promoting amateur football in the area for youth ages 7-18. Current board members are Cindy Cooper, Mark Smith, Greg Finstad, Matt Heinrichs, Leith Lynch, Randy Cooper, Rob Stevenson, Ashford Slowley, Nate Stevenson and Earlene Cooper.
SSMFA offers a fall tackle program starting each September, with teams competing in the Vancouver Island Community Football League. But there are also spring programs. An in-house flag football league is open to players aged 9-12 (born 2007-11). Registration fee is $40 and the first 80 players registered are guaranteed a spot. Practices will be Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6-7 p.m. beginning March 3 and games will be Saturdays at 10 a.m. from March 7 until April 18. Registration sessions have already been held, but a final one will be this Saturday, Feb. 29, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Dawg House.
Also upcoming is a spring tackle six-man in-house league for junior bantam players born 2007-08. Practices will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30 p.m. beginning April 28. Registration fee is $150 which also covers the fall season of play. All uniforms and protective equipment are supplied. Details are available on the South-Side Minor Football Facebook page or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair and show good sportsmanship.