Airdrie will be teeming with football players from July 2 to 4, when the city hosts the tryouts for an upcoming provincial showcase event.
Local football coach Chris Glass said Football Alberta is hosting a bantam showcase in Red Deer on July 18, featuring some of the province’s top U16-aged players. He said the showcase is intended as a replacement for the 2020 Alberta Summer Games, which were cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Football Alberta wanted to do something to make up for it, so we’re selecting two teams from the Calgary and area region – formerly zones 2 and 3 – and we’ll draft two teams,” said Glass, who is also the head coach of the George McDougall Mustangs football team.
Once the players are drafted, the two teams will compete July 18 in Red Deer against similar select teams from other regions of the province.
“There’s one north [Alberta] team, one south team, two Edmonton teams and two Calgary area teams,” Glass said. “If I had to guess, we’ll probably be matched up with one of the Edmonton teams. They’re trying to make it as fair as they can, competition-wise, and those are usually the strongest entries [at the Alberta Summer Games].”
While the tryouts were originally supposed to be held in Calgary, Glass said the player selection camp will now take place in Airdrie. He added plenty of local players will try out for the team on their home turf, most of whom are members or alumni of the Airdrie Raiders bantam program.
Two weeks after tryouts have wrapped up, Glass said the finalized squads will return to Airdrie on July 16 and 17 for a pair of practices at Ed Eggerer Athletic Park, before travelling north the following day for the showcase in Red Deer.
In addition to his work as a local football coach, Glass is also spearheading the Airdrie Field Turf Project – an initiative aimed at bringing Airdrie’s first artificial grass sports field to Ed Eggerer Athletic Park. The project has been in the works since 2019.
Glass said hosting the tryouts for the upcoming showcase will highlight the kind of economic stimulus a turf field could eventually bring to Airdrie. According to Glass, a feasibility study for the project indicated an event like the upcoming tryouts can bring in up to $200 per player, as their families spend money on food, gas and possibly accommodations in the city.
“The tryouts should bring about 300 players and parents to our city for the whole weekend, and then for the practices, we’re looking at 84 players and their parents coming in,” he said. “It will be a really good showcase of what we could actually accomplish if we actually had a turf field.”
At the moment, the turf field initiative is still in its early stages, though Airdrie City council and Rocky View Schools have each endorsed the project in the past. While Glass was originally scheduled to present an update on the turf field to Airdrie City council this month, he said the presentation has been pushed back to August.