© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Football Saskatchewan brought in about a dozen members of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team to provide instruction at the Northern Saskatchewan Football Camp held at Max Clunie Field on the weekend. More than 120 players from 10 different schools in the Northern Lights School Division took part in the event, which featured all players rotating through a series of stations to learn the fundamentals for each position. Shown in the photo is one of the coaches going through the proper technique to perform an agility test.
Football is catching on in the northern reaches of Saskatchewan.
With the maiden season in the books the Northern Lights School Division brought in about 120 players from 10 different northern communities to Max Clunie Field on the weekend and Football Saskatchewan provided the instruction to help the athletes get fundamentally stronger before the next campaign begins in the fall.
“It is absolutely fulfilling to hear stories from the kids how much they enjoy the game,” said NLSD superintendent Mark Williment while watching the football enthusiasts being put through their paces at different stations set up around the Prime Ministers’ Park complex on Saturday. “We had an opportunity to spend some (surplus) money and we thought this would be a good opportunity to engage our young people in school.”
The inaugural campaign last year had teams competing in a six-man Northern Saskatchewan league with the exception of LaRonge, which was grandfathered into the provincial circuit. This year will also see the 10 northern communities competing in six-man football, but Williment is hopeful by the third season they can compete provincially whether it is in six-man or nine-man.
“Right now what we are trying to do is build player development and help our coaches,” says Williment. “We had kind of a combine here last night (Friday) and then for the rest of the weekend they will work on their skills.”
The players, both boys and girls, are high school students from Creighton, Cumberland House, Sandy Bay, Senator Myles Venne School in LaRonge, La Loche, Buffalo Narrows, Beauval, Pinehouse and Green Lake. They will compete in a regular season set to start right after Labour Day with the playoffs to commence the week following Thanksgiving.
Mining giant Areva has been a main supporter of the program and were largely responsible for the camp on the weekend as a number of University of Saskatchewan football players were brought in as instructors for the sessions.
All players were put through their paces in running, passing, kicking, blocking, tackling and catching opening up new opportunities for the participants and coaches.
Armed with new skills and techniques, the players and coaches are ready to tackle the new season head-on. The growth of the sport in Saskatchewan is quickening and now it is becoming all inclusive as no regions in the province are without properly trained personnel. That certainly bodes well for the future.