This is one play that not many football players are likely to pass on.
Four years after the first spring six-a-side leagues were started for pee wee and bantam players, Grade 9-11 students will have their chance to try the game.
St. Mary football coach Curt Hundeby is one of the organizers.
“The football season is short,” he says. “It’s intense but it’s pretty short as far as a sports season goes. It’s really two months, a little over if you go on a playoff run. We thought there’s time in the spring where it’s warm, why not expand it to include some more time.”
After quizzing some of his players about whether they would be interested -- and then doing the same at other schools in Prince Albert and surrounding communities -- the association realized they had enough players. They anticipate 40 to 60 kids will sign up on March 17 at Crescent Heights arena from 5-7 p.m.
The six-week league will cost $100 with practices every Monday and games every Wednesday.
It is set to kick off on April 8 and end on May 15.
No players will be cut, unlike the league in Regina where 120 players didn’t make the grade.
Hundeby says it’s a great way for players to learn about the game, even for teens more accustomed to the 12-man high school game that St. Mary and Carlton play.
“Six-man is such a great form of football for developing fundamentals,” he said. “Almost everyone on offence is eligible to catch a pass and you have unlimited motion. Defensively, it really works on your skills of being to move and tackle and play in space, which are very adaptable to 12-man. It really focuses more on developing the skill and athleticism of a player rather than schemes and tactical aspects.”
After an initial evaluation, the group of coaches will divvy up the players in an effort to make the teams as equal as possible. After the teams are formed, they will then be assigned to the coaches.
There will also be an effort made to ensure players from one school don’t all end up on the same team together.
Another interesting idea is that every player in the league will do drills together for the first part of Monday practice before splitting up into their teams.
“We want the spring league to be first and foremost fun for these guys and second we really want to develop proper technique and skill work so that when they do go back to their high school teams in the fall, they’re just a little bit more prepared,” Hundeby said.
The Prince Albert Minor Football Association formed in 2005 and started a touch football league.
In 2007 Prince Albert River Riders program was added to allow 13- and 14-year-old bantam-aged players an opportunity to try tackle football for the first time.
Youngsters aged 10-12 got the opportunity a year later when the pee wee River Riders team was established.
In 2009, the first six-a-side spring leagues were established.
The teams will be limited to 10 to 12 players each.
Hundeby says the only factor limiting the growth of football in Prince Albert is a lack of coaches.
Still, the game is growing and thriving.
“There’s kids that want to play and want to succeed and excel,” Hundeby says. “This is just one more thing that we can do to provide them that opportunity.”