Two games into the 2021 season, Airdrie’s minor football teams are off to a flying start.
The Airdrie Raiders (bantam) and the Airdrie Storm (peewee) are both currently rocking unbeaten records in their respective leagues – the Calgary Bantam Football Association (CBFA) and the Calgary Peewee Football Association (CPFA).
“We’re doing well,” said Tyrell Rohl, the head coach of the Storm. “Both teams have a lot of veteran presence, which is nice. They’re just playing good football and the kids are working hard, which is awesome.”
The Raiders opened their season on Aug. 21 with an 8-6 win over the Calgary Cowboys, before dismantling the Calgary Mavericks 30-2 on Aug. 28.
The Storm, meanwhile, kicked off their 2021 campaign with a 29-8 victory over the Mavericks on Aug. 21. They kept up the positive early-season momentum Aug. 28, beating the Calgary Wildcats 14-6.
Rohl said the players’ eagerness to return to competition after a year of pandemic-related restrictions has manifested in a strong start for both teams.
“You could tell they missed playing 12-man football last year, so the kids are just fired up and excited to be out there playing again,” he said. “They’re not taking it for granted. They had some things taken away from them at one point, so they’re putting a little extra in than what we’ve seen in the past.”
2021 is another record-setting year in terms of minor football participation in Airdrie, according to Rohl. He said upwards of 60 players came out to tryouts for both the peewee and bantam squads this July, while nearly 50 players signed up for Airdrie Minor Football’s atom program.
With COVID-19 restrictions being lifted this summer, Rohl said parents were looking for affordable recreation options for their kids, and many families found that through local football.
“When it comes to high-level sport competition, I don’t think there’s anything out there that beats football comparably for price,” he said. “That might be one of the things that have bolstered our numbers as well. Parents are trying to get their kids back out and being active, and are trying to find the most bang for their buck as far as practice time, field time and cost go.”
The Raiders will look to maintain their unbeaten record Sept. 4 with a battle against the Calgary Hilltoppers, who are currently 1-1 in the CBFA.
The Storm will enjoy a break from competition over the Labour Day long weekend, before returning to the field Sept. 11 to take on the Cochrane Lions.