Although games are still three months away, the Chestermere Chiefs’ preparations have already begun for the 2019 minor football season.
With Calgary’s minor football leagues for atom, peewee and bantam players kicking off in August, the Chiefs is currently trying to recruit athletes. According to president Alan Speidel, the Chiefs plans to field four teams in the fall – two for the atom age group, and one each for peewee and bantam.
“Looking for players is the big [focus],” he said. “We have a hard time getting the message out. It’s very difficult to put out brochures or pamphlets in schools these days, so it’s hard to get the message out to the kids.”
In the lead-up to preseason training camp, the Chiefs is holding free try-it events for new players who have never played football before. The first event was held May 22 at Chestermere High School with roughly 20 players in attendance, according to Speidel.
He said he’s hoping to see more players at subsequent sessions – June 12 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Sara Thompson School in Langdon, and June 23 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Chestermere Recreation Centre.
Along with the try-it events, Speidel said, the association is holding weekly conditioning sessions to help Chiefs players keep fit during the spring. Sessions will run Tuesday and Thursday evenings until the end of June.
“Other than typical weather challenges in April and May in southern Alberta, it’s going well,” Speidel said. “We have 30-some kids involved in that. Most of those kids have been in our program before. There are a few new kids out for that, which is nice, to have kids who haven’t played football before but have played other sports.”
Preseason training camp will begin in early August, according to Speidel, with competitive games starting later that month. The fall season runs until mid- to late-October, with games being held at the Shouldice Athletic Park in Calgary.
Last season was a positive one for the Chiefs – particularly for the bantam team, which ended 2018 as the Division 3 champion in the Calgary Bantam Football Association.
This year will be a rebuilding year for that team, according to Speidel, as about half the squad aged out of bantam.
“We’ve got a few kids from peewee moving up,” he said. “We can always use more players, but things are looking OK at the bantam level.”
Regardless of any prior football experience, Speidel encourages youth in Chestermere aged eight to 14 to give the sport a shot.
“Football is really a true team game,” he said. “There’s a spot or position for just about every shape and size of player, and it’s a difficult game for one player to sort of take over. That’s what keeps me involved and what got me involved when I was young—there’s teamwork, camaraderie and you have to work as one.”