Thursday, 01 September 2011 10:46

Swift Current Minor Football a major deal

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By Brad Brown — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

No need to call an audible – they’ve got that Rider Pride.

Ditto for the Falcons, Steelers, Vikings, Roughnecks, Jaguars, Golden Gophers, Inferno, Pirates, and Raiders.

Swift Current Minor Football’s sixth season gets underway Monday at Riverside Park with a true Labour Day classic. Nine games. Nine teams. Three divisions. About 190 players.

“Not too many changes,” said minor football president Art Ward. “We’re pretty much sticking to the status quo. Registration is holding pretty steady … but there’s a real surge in interest for the atom division this year. Some of it I think is because these kids have had older siblings who’ve played or friends giving it a try. And I think honestly, some of it has to do with the success the Roughriders have had the last two, three, four years.”

Of course that’s not to take anything away from the hard work put in over the years by minor football’s volunteers, officials, and board members.

Ward estimates one-third to 40 per cent of SCMF’s players now come from outside the city – from towns like Shaunavon, Morse, Ernfold, Aneroid, Gull Lake, and Maple Creek.

It’s allowed Swift Current to continue operating as a self-sustaining league with three teams in each division.

Cities of roughly comparable size like Estevan typically field one team per age group.

They form partnerships with Regina Minor Football in order to make a regular season schedule a reality. You don’t get to that point on the coattails of a team two hours down the road, no matter how popular they might be.

“We’ve got parents in some cases driving their kids 60 or 70 miles one way, three times a week, so they can play football,” said Ward. “We’re extremely fortunate in that we’ve got a really good relationship with a lot of these communities.”

Swift Current Minor Football held its annual jamboree Saturday at Riverside Park with the goal of evaluating players for the sake of forming this year’s teams. The idea, said Ward, is to try and make the teams as even as possible – at least in the beginning.

“There will always be some kids who develop faster than others over the course of the season but, at least in the beginning, we try and make sure the teams are as equal as possible,” he said.

Games Monday are scheduled for 1:30, 3, and 4:30 p.m.

Minor football is still looking for officials and volunteers for the coming season, and Ward says they will also accept player registrations right up until the first game of the season.

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