Calling all CFL fans: Grey Cup to make 3 N.L. stops in May

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Grey Cup festival kicks off Tuesday

What might have been a Hail Mary pass — a bid to bring the Grey Cup to Newfoundland and Labrador — has turned into a touchdown for a local fan with a deep love of Canadian football.

Ottawa Redblacks owner — and native Newfoundlander — Jeff Hunt is bringing the Grey Cup to his home province for stops in Corner Brook, Labrador City and St. John's. 

Joining him will be Redblacks receiving duo Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli, as well as the team's mascot, Big Jim. 

One of the people behind the three-stop tour is Chris Foley, who contacted Hunt's office in Ottawa with a pitch to bring the Cup to Hunt's native province. ​

"I mentioned that it would be cool to see the Grey Cup, and he said he was kind of planning on stopping by, but I thought it would only be a one-hour type thing," Foley told CBC Radio's Corner Brook Morning Show. 

"It just kind of snowballed from there, and it's gotten big." 

Three stops for the Cup 

The Grey Cup, the top honour of the Canadian Football League, will arrive in Corner Brook on May 2.

The following day, Hunt — the only Newfoundlander whose name is inscribed on the 104-year-old trophy — and his colleagues will travel to Labrador City, before they head to St. John's on May 4 for the tour's final stop. 

"I understand how busy [the Redblacks] are, and it's getting close to their new season," Foley said.

"I thought it was going to be a kind of farfetched thing to get them to come to town, but the other side of me thought that [Hunt] wanted to use this as a great opportunity to come back home and really showcase football in Newfoundland."

Although the official itinerary hasn't been finalized, the broad strokes of the Corner Brook visit are in place. 

Hunt, along with the Redblacks players and mascot, will visit a local elementary school in the morning, while the public will get a chance to see the Redblacks and the Grey Cup later in the day. 

Foley and members of the Western Newfoundland Football Association will also be running fun drills for anyone who wants to try their hand at the sport.

The final stop for the cup will be at a local sports bar where the players and Hunt will host a question and answer period.

Hunt joining Football Association board

Foley, who had organized a perennial touch football league in Corner Brook, rekindled his pigskin passion last year with plans to establish a full-contact football league, the Western Newfoundland Football Association.

Foley is hoping the event will boost the profile of both the association and the sport on Newfoundland's west coast.

He said the association's plan is to start small and teach the fundamentals of the sport through flag football as it grows. 

According to Foley, the Redblacks owner has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help the sport gain a toehold in the region. He's even agreed to head up the league's board of directors.

"He's totally on board and he's been giving me some really good ideas. We couldn't think of anyone better to have on our board," said Foley. 

"If we get the numbers, it can be here for a long time. We just want as many kids as possible to get out and enjoy [football]."