Young football players join Team Alberta

Ben Pasiuk and Owen Smith play on the opposite side of the ball when it comes to football but the two Lindsay Thurber Raiders seemed to be joined at the hip when it comes to the teams they play for.

Both were members of the Red Deer Steelers Peewee team, moving into the bantam ranks together.

The two are high school teammates as well as playing together on the Midget Prairie Fire squad.

Their latest adventure will be as members of the Team Alberta U18 team and they can’t get enough football.

“It’s a pretty big load but at the end of the day I just love to play football so I’m out here every day and I like to be around my friends and my teammates,” said Pasiuk, who plays slotback.

Smith, who plays in the defensive backfield, is on the same page as Pasiuk when it comes to the amount of football the pair is exposed to.

“It’s a great opportunity for me (the U18 team),” said Smith. “I play as much football as I can because you’re not going to play it forever so I’m using my opportunity I have now.”

Both players were very aware of the small window of opportunity to make the provincial squad but went in with the right attitude about the process which included four identification camps all around Alberta and more than 100 players are chosen to attend the final camp in Edmonton which runs just three days, leaving not much time to make a good impression on the coaches.

“They do a great job (the coaches) of not letting you know where you stand during the camp so if it’s good enough then great and if it’s not then kind of too bad but it’s a great experience and great coaching so either way I knew all I had to do was go out and play,” said Pasiuk.

Smith said playing with the Fire in the Midget league was a great way for him to prepare for the provincial team camp.

“It keeps you playing football throughout the spring and there’s kids coming into camp having not played football since the fall so we were definitely a step ahead of them.”

Another advantage derived from playing for three different teams in one year is the amount of knowledge you walk away with while adapting to different defensive schemes, said Smith.

“They’re little adjustments but they’re good adjustments because they keep you thinking and they keep you learning football more. When you try out for different teams you can learn new schemes quickly.”

Pasiuk took a moment to credit the c minor and high school football systems for turning out some quality players from other schools in Central Alberta who were at the camp.

“We didn’t really look out of place and that’s thanks to all the coaches and just the great programs we have going,” he said.

Both Pasiuk and Smith agree they will only get better as players through this experience of playing with some of the best in the province and look forward to sharing with their high school teammates at Lindsay Thurber.

“Playing the most elite level of football I can is what I want to do and it will always be my goal,” said Pasiuk.

Smith was pretty much on the same page as Pasiuk.

“Looking to get some more leadership, some more skills to bring back to high school and looking to finish off Grade 12 on a high.”

There will be a two-day camp for the provincial team in June in Red Deer and then the tournament will be held in July in Saskatoon.