If you had any doubt as to the interest in the game of football throughout Central Alberta all you needed to do was be at the Collicutt Centre this past Sunday morning to see all is well with the state of the game.
The Prairie Fire Midget football team held an identification camp and more than 100 players from around the region turned out to see what they are all about.
“We’re excited about the numbers because the more numbers you have the better chance you get the athletes you’re looking for,” explained Fire Head Coach Chris Hall. “Today we’re not looking too hard though. We want to give the kids a good experience and then our job really starts in the New Year when player evaluations start.”
The coaching staff gets to know the athletes in Central Alberta they really like, who have a lot of potential and those are the kids they want to see come out to these events.
“But there’s always some diamonds in the rough, some dark horses that catch your eye and that’s the part that excites me,” said Hall. “I love finding those kids, especially from the small towns that haven’t got a lot of attention and they come out here and they show well.”
This is year number three for the camp and Hall feels the game is doing well all the way from Atom up to the senior men’s program and this turnout is a good barometer to measure the passion for football in Central Alberta.
The next step in the process will be team tryouts which begin in January and the process is open so as many players from Grades 9-11 are encouraged to give it a shot, said Hall.
“You learn a lot as an athlete. You learn a lot as a person going through a tryout process, a competitive process and it’s great for these kids to have that experience.”
As for the Prairie Fire team, Hall feels the program is on solid footing as they enter another season in the Calgary Midget League which he thinks is the best test for these players.
“That is the best minor football association in Alberta. So many of those kids go on to play CIS, junior, and play on all the provincial teams. It’s stiff competition down there but it’s exactly what our kids need to get better.”