The Airdrie Field Turf Project Society (AFTPS) announced their first fundraising event of 2022 last weekend – the Airdrie Elite Football Coaches Clinic.
The two-day coaching clinic for all levels of football coaches will run on March 4 and 5 at the Airdrie Christian Academy with speakers coming from across the province.
“Some of them are professional coaches with the Calgary Stampeders and BC Lions and others are people from the [football] community in Alberta,” said Chris Glass, president of ATFPS and the head coach of the George McDougall Mustangs football team.
The clinic will feature five keynote speakers from the Calgary Stampeders and over 20 other guest presenters.
Speakers include Devone Claybrooks, the former head coach of the BC Lions and former defensive coordinator for the Calgary Stampeders; Brett Monson, the Calgary Stampeders defensive coordinator; Taylor Atilio, the strength and conditioning coach for the Calgary Stampeders; Pat Sheahan, the offensive coordinator for the U of C Dinos and long time coach with Queen's University’s football taem, and many more.
Glass said the event will mark the first football coaching clinic in Airdrie, adding the city is becoming a hot bed for the sport in Alberta.
“This is another example of bringing people into Airdrie,” he said. “Instead of travelling to Calgary or somewhere else, people will travel to Airdrie and use our hotels and our restaurants and our city in order to learn.”
AFTPS partnered with some of Airdrie’s local hotels to offer the best rates for out-of-town guests, according to Glass, who said the organizers expect between 200 and 250 guests to come from out-of-town, including coaches from Calgary, Lethbrige, Medicine Hat, and Edmonton.
Besides hearing marquee speakers talk about their football coaching careers and experience, AFTPS has planned breakout rooms for smaller, more intimate sessions between attendees and coaches.
Glass explained that these smaller sessions will allow coaches and peers to talk about coaching strategies on a more specific level.
“We've got coaches in those breakout sessions that are going to give you skills and tools you can bring back to your program at your level – it kind of meets all needs,” Glass said.
While this clinic intends to promote and support the installation of a state-of-the-art artificial turf field at Ed Eggerer Athletic Park, it is shaping up to be one of the best-ever football clinics in Alberta, Glass claimed.
“These speakers are fantastic and you're going to learn a lot about football and you'll learn a lot about how the pros do things, and how our peers do things,” Glass said. “It's going to be a great weekend of learning and it’s not something a true football coach would want to miss.”
AFTPS first emerged in 2019 with a goal of converting the existing natural grass surface at the football field on the north side of Genesis Place Recreation Centre to artificial field turf.
The reasoning behind the project is that artificial turf is safer to play on and would increase the number of playable hours per year for local football, soccer, rugby and field hockey teams.
Glass believes the total for the field is between $3.5 million and $4 million, and their fundraising team is hoping to raise $100,000 this year.
The goal for this clinic fundraiser is to raise $30,000, as long as they are able to go ahead with the event at full capacity, pending the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The rest will come from municipal, provincial funding as well as sponsorships and grant money,” Glass said.
Roughly $50,000 was raised previously to pay for feasibility studies that were conducted in 2021, which estimated the total cost of the project to be around $4.4 million. However, Glass said the study included a lot of additional costs that could be removed.
The feasibility study led the City of Airdrie to approve $900,000 of municipal funding in the 2023 budget.
AFTPS hopes to break ground on the turf installation in the summer of 2023.
“If everything goes well and if not, we will keep banging the drum and keep raising money. We will get it eventually,” Glass said.
For a full line up of speakers at the upcoming coaches clinic, keep an eye on the Airdrie Field Turf Project Facebook page.