By Woodard, Dale on June 19, 2017.
The best in the west of under-16 football talent will take the snap in Lethbridge early next month.
The University of Lethbridge Stadium will be the site of the inaugural Football Canada U16 West Challenge July 2-8, a week-long event pitting the best U16 players from the four western provinces against each other with the chance to suit up for Canada at the International Bowl.
“It’s the four western provinces, B.C., Alberta Saskatchewan and Manitoba,” said Dave Overes, commissioner of Southern Alberta Minor Football Association and the head chair of the host committee for the Football Canada U16 West Challenge. “They’ve sent four all-star teams of U16 players. They’re going to have a Challenge Cup and play each team and from there Football Canada will be picking a team that will go down to Dallas and play in Cowboy Stadium against Team USA.”
It’s the first year the program has been run with the same event taking place on the other side of the country when Wolfville, Nova Scotia hosts the Football Canada U16 East Challenge July 16-22, featuring teams from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and a second team from Saskatchewan.
“For the last about five years Team Alberta has been sending a team down to play Team USA in the International Bowl,” said Overes. “Last year Football Canada got involved and said ‘This is a great idea and we want to spread it out to everybody.’ About a week after this one they’ll run another one out in eastern Canada including Saskatchewan, who is sending two teams.”
Lethbridge hosted the Canada Cup in 2011.
“Football Canada really appreciated what we did,” said Overes. “The organizing committee did a great job and the fact we were centralized with the university being able to supply dorm rooms for the players, it was the best choice for the first tournament.”
The action gets underway July 2, starting with British Columbia taking on Manitoba before Alberta faces Saskatchewan.
Two more games take place July 5, starting with British Columbia vs. Saskatchewan, followed by Alberta vs. Manitoba.
The event wraps up with the final two games July 8 when Saskatchewan plays Manitoba and British Columbia squares off against Alberta.
“THEY’LL HAVE THE BEST RECORD AND THE TEAM THAT WINS IT WILL GET A TROPHY,” SAID OVERES. “EACH DAY THEY’LL HAVE A PLAYER OF THE GAME FOR BOTH OFFENCE AND DEFENCE FOR BOTH TEAMS.”
ETHAN PERRY OF CLARESHOLM WILL BE THE SOUTHERN ALBERTA REPRESENTATIVE ON TEAM ALBERTA, HAVING PLAYED IN THE BANTAM BOWL MAY 22 IN EDMONTON.
OVERES SAID THERE WERE OTHER SOUTHERN ALBERTA PLAYERS WHO MADE THE BANTAM BOWL, BUT ARE NOW OVER THE AGE OF 16.
WITH THE EVENT A LITTLE OVER TWO WEEKS AWAY, THE HOST COMMITTEE IS STILL LOOKING FOR A FEW INTERESTED VOLUNTEERS.
“JUST TO FILL IN A FEW HOLES, BUT OTHER THAN THAT WE’RE READY TO GO,” SAID OVERES.
INTERESTED VOLUNTEERS CAN GO TO THE LETHBRIDGE SPORTS COUNCIL WEB PAGE AT http://LETHBRIDGESPORTCOUNCIL.CA/ OR CLICK ON THE LINK FOR THE VOLUNTEERS STORY AT http://LETHBRIDGESPORTCOUNCIL.CA/NEWS/ARTICLE/FOOTBALL-CANADA-U16-CHALLENGE-WEST-VOLUNTEERS-NEEDED.
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