BY IAN THORPE
There’s still more than a month of summer on the calendar, but already the fall sports season seems to be upon us. Leading the way is football, which is ready to bounce back on numerous fronts this year as COVID-19 recovery continues.
On the local scene, a shortened B.C. Football Conference season will get underway next month for the Vancouver Island Raiders. Last season was cancelled due to COVID and this season has been reduced to eight games. The Raiders will open on Sept. 11 when they host the Langley Rams. Fans, please note that this year the Raiders’ home games will be played at the Nanaimo District Secondary artificial turf field.
Meanwhile, Football Nanaimo has been holding registration and practices for the minor football fall tackle season that runs from this month through November.
Full credit to the local organization, which has continued to thrive despite the challenges of COVID during the past year. Football Nanaimo rebranded itself as Football Nanaimo Seahawks, with new colours and uniforms to reflect our proximity to Seattle’s NFL franchise. A modified fall season was held last year with safety rules in place. No travel was allowed, but following protocols, skills and drills were held and then in-house tackle games.
So well done to organizers and to player award winners. From the peewee division, best offensive player was Carter Hall, best defensive player was Jacob Gregory and MVP was Owen Bishop. In the junior bantam age group, Nathan Fraser was top offensive player, James Christian was top defensive player and Ajay Storey was MVP. Congratulations also to the new Football Nanaimo executive that was elected last January. Organization president is Dan Fraser, vice-president is Wanda Currie, secretary is Kailee Mann and treasurer is Carlie Krampl.
Football Nanaimo then held a successful spring season last April and May. Teams were full in all age divisions, with players on a waiting list to get in.
Now it’s fall season again and registration is up by an amazing 300 per cent compared to 2019. As a result, two new age groups and three new teams for players age 8-15 have been formed. A pair of atom (ages 8-9) teams will play in-house tackle games on Sunday mornings. No travel will be involved, with the focus on learning football basics and gaining confidence. A peewee (ages 10-11) team coached by Geoffrey Hall and a junior bantam (ages 12-13) team coached by Shawn Bishop will play against opposition from other Island communities. A new bantam (ages 14-15) team will also play all over the Island, with some games in Vancouver. Ash Slowley will be head coach for this squad. There are a few roster spaces left but they are expected to fill quickly.
Registration cost was held to $100, which includes all necessary equipment except for football cleats and practice jerseys. All practice sessions and home games will be held at May Bennett Pioneer Park on Dover Road in north Nanaimo. The first set of games will happen on the weekend of Sept. 11-12.
Due to the spring wait list, the organization decided to invite wait-listed parents and returning players before opening registration to the public. There are no rep teams with selected players – it’s a first-come, first-served model. Football Nanaimo will continue this way for future, so parents are encouraged to sign up for the wait list now so they get early notifications for when next spring’s season will start. Complete details, including registration information, are available at www.footballnanaimo.com.
Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.
Ian Thorpe writes about local sports once a month in the News Bulletin.