Grid­iron gang is back

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Football sea­son is kick­ing into gear again in Bay Roberts. The head of Football NL is pleased with the level of in­ter­est shown so far and hopes to soon spur in­ter­est in the sport a few com­mu­ni­ties over in Car­bon­ear.

As sum­mer winds down and tem­per­a­tures be­gin to cool, weather sig­nals the re­turn of football.

As Na­tional Football League train­ing camps con­cluded and teams fi­nal­ized their ros­ters, Football NL pres­i­dent and tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Brian Hughes was in Bay Roberts at­tempt­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on a strong first sea­son for the sport in the area.

Although just half-a-dozen play­ers were on the field at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate last week, they put them­selves through a good work­out that in­cluded lad­der work, re­ceiv­ing route run­ning and throw­ing the football.

Not ev­ery toss was a per­fect spi­ral or ef­fi­cient route run, but it’s a start, which suits Hughes just fine.

He wants to see im­prove­ment.

“What’s pos­i­tive is that we have a num­ber of young men el­i­gi­ble to play a sec­ond year be­cause of their age that are back,” said Hughes.

Fledg­ling sports have a cer­tain set of chal­lenges when they move into their sec­ond year that they need to over­come. There is main­tain­ing the in­ter­est from the pre­vi­ous sea­son and try­ing to avoid spread­ing them­selves too thin while at­tempt­ing to add to the ex­ist­ing pro­gram.

“We’ve been re­ally pleased,” said Hughes of the buzz around the sec­ond sea­son.

As we all know, when it turns to the fall, hockey is king in this coun­try. How­ever, there are al­ways those ath­letes look­ing for new chal­lenges.

“We have play­ers who want to try some­thing new,” said Hughes. “They watch football on tele­vi­sion. They want to put on a hel­met and be like them.”

Car­bon­ear ex­pan­sion

Hughes is look­ing to grow the game in another part of Conception Bay North this sea­son.

Tak­ing the 15-minute drive to nearby Car­bon­ear, he is hop­ing to re­cruit play­ers down there with eyes on meld­ing them with the play­ers al­ready es­tab­lished in Bay Roberts.

“I’m hop­ing to get into the school and talk to the stu­dents there,” he said. “If Bay Roberts boys and girls want to play, then I have to be­lieve that there are peo­ple in Car­bon­ear who might want to play too.” Football is one of the most pop­u­lar spec­ta­tor sports in the world. Hughes hopes this ex­po­sure can help get play­ers to come out for a look. He wouldn’t look to have two sep­a­rate teams from this re­gion. That might spread re­sources too thin. “I don’t want to get to the point where you go with two teams of 10,” said Hughes. “If we con­sol­i­date the re­sources onto one team, then the chances for suc­cess in year two be­come greater.”

Good energy

Head­ing into its sec­ond sea­son, Football NL is im­pressed with the group they cur­rently have in the area.

A fac­tor in the pos­i­tive vibes com­ing from this group is the re­turn of more than half-a-dozen play­ers from the pre­vi­ous sea­son. There were more play­ers, but they had other com­mit­ments ahead of the first prac­tice of the sea­son.

De­spite the low num­ber, the Bay Roberts play­ers have a thirst for the game and are ea­ger to learn what­ever they can. “The Bay Roberts boys have an ad­van­tage of be­ing a com­mu­nity,” said Hughes. “The energy is there. They’re all com­ing back be­cause they want to play again.” The next step for Football Nl will be to ex­pand its reach to the lower age di­vi­sions. The group has a dozen or so un­der-11 play­ers in St. John’s, and Hughes hopes to find more young play­ers in this area. In a per­fect world, the at­trac­tion of the older ath­letes play­ing would at­tract the younger kids to seek out the group.

Hughes would take it slow with the young group un­til they were ready to hit the field.

“If they come out, we can keep them,” he said. “It’s cru­cial to get the younger play­ers.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on reg­is­tra­tion or if you have any ques­tions, you can con­tact Hughes through his email (coach­hughes@msn.com) or visit the Football NL web­site at www.foot­ballnl.ca.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Sean Crane (cen­tre) at­tempts to drive through the pad held by Alex Tucker as oth­ers play­ers look dur­ing football prac­tice at the soc­cer field be­hind As­cen­sion Col­le­giate on Aug. 31.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.