By Bala Yogesh, Now-Leader
SURREY — Sullivan Heights Secondary school is driving down the field in a bid to start a football program it says will create a positive impact and a structured life for its students.
Gord Randall is leading the campaign for Sullivan Heights and will be the team’s head coach, should the program come to fruition.
He says because the sport is all about structure, this will help students who may be drifting away or don’t have a structure to keep them on the right path.
“When you’re in-season, you’re practising every day and it’s always the same time and the games are typically the same time as well,” Randall said. “So there’s a lot of consistency and structure there.”
In Surrey, three public schools offer similar football programs – Lord Tweedsmuir, Frank Hurt and Ecole Earl Marriott. Holy Cross Regional Secondary, a private Catholic school, also has a football program. With only four schools in Surrey offering the sport, Randall said the city is grossly underserved for high school football.
To that end, Sullivan Heights is aiming to field a team by this fall. Seventy players currently studying Grade 8 to Grade 11 have already signed up, and the number could approach 100 if it includes the students in support roles.
Randall said the school received a few donations and is currently looking to secure more funding for the program to cover the equipment and facilities. He says the estimated start-up budget is around $40,000.
“We are hopeful that we will acquire few sponsors in the future,” he said. “We are gonna explore any avenue we need to get the funding.”
Randall says he has confidence the program will get off the ground and be successful.
“We are not just gonna get this done but we are gonna get it done the right way,” he said. “Our big thing is the fundraising and we need the community support for that and we will promote our sponsors too. We are hoping to get a lot of fundraising in place through sponsorships and things like that, so our kids don’t have to pay a bunch of money out of pockets.”
Brien Gemmell, president of B.C. Secondary Schools Football Association, said it’s not easy to start a football program. In fact, he says, it’s quite a difficult task.
“When schools start a program, it takes a lot of work and is not an easy venture,” Gemmell said. “From a financial standpoint, school support standpoint and a coaching standpoint, it goes through a number of ups and downs.”
As part of the fundraising program, Sullivan Heights is hosting an event at Rusty’s Pub in Surrey on Jan. 19. The school also has a GoFundMe page. So far, it has raised $340 of a $5,000 goal.
(Click here to donate.)