Football is one of the largest team sports and, like every other team sport, requires co-operation and dedication from each member for the team to succeed.
The Pincher Creek Mustangs Football Club is looking to improve its next season by recruiting not a stellar quarterback or athletic linebacker but rather town council.
The football team attended council’s April 25 meeting as a delegation requesting the town help improve the team’s field at Matthew Halton School, which currently does not meet Alberta Football regulations.
“A long-term goal from the town is a new facility designated behind Walmart,” said Clayton Lelan, a member of the Mustangs board of directors. “We cannot wait. We ask the town to start investing into this field we have today until that move can happen in the future.”
“The Mustangs have been using the Halton field for 27 years,” added Boston Lelan, a Grade 7 player. “Over those 27 years of Pincher Creek football, the town has yet to provide a regulation field, a safe field, or a field we can be proud of.”
Because the field is owned by the Livingstone Range School Division yet maintained by the town, responsibilities regarding its condition have often gone unaddressed. In particular, watering and irrigation have been an issue, and the hill on the south end and a steel pipe fence at the north limit the dimensions of the playing surface to below-regulation standards.
Another issue brought forward by the club is the lack of proper change room and spectator facilities, including restrooms. The lack of lights also limits the time practices and games can be held, especially as the days shorten in autumn.
The field’s current condition also creates a major concern in regard to player safety as the lack of watering throughout the year results in a hard, compact surface.
“A well-manicured and cared-for field reduces concussions, and the Mustangs and neighbouring towns deserve a concussion-reduced playing area,” said Cody Querengesser, a Mustangs player in Grade 10.
“I know first hand — I have suffered a concussion on this field that the town provides for us. I love football, but I care about concussion reduction, and I hope you would too.”
Council members acknowledged that something had to be done to improve the current playing conditions but that the nature of the situation precluded simple solutions.
Coun. Sara Nodge pointed out that part of the problem was the Halton field was being used in a way it wasn’t designed for.
“Some of the big pieces you’ve pointed out are things that can’t easily be changed,” she said.
Nodge thanked the football team for coming as a delegation and encouraged them to push forward lobbying LRSD. In addition, she suggested it would be appropriate for the town and school division to form a committee and look at options for an improved playing surface.
Mayor Don Anderberg noted the town’s recent recreation master plan called for a multi-sport facility in the northeast of town behind Walmart, but said the problem facing the Mustangs required quicker action.
“Doing something in the northeast won’t happen this year. In the meantime, what do we have to do or where do we have to go to make something serviceable?” he asked.
Since the current field at Halton is too small, putting money into facilities and lights wouldn’t be economical, the mayor continued. Rather, finding a new location, such as the field at the ag grounds, would be the better course of action.
“That's what we have to do — have a discussion and find if there’s something available that makes sense, even if it’s just a temporary site. Plus there’s always potential it could become permanent,” said Anderberg. “The key thing is finding a field that’s serviceable right now that’s big enough to do the job.”
Additionally, the town is currently working on a new agreement with LRSD, which will affect the terms of their shared agreement with Halton field.
Addressing the Mustangs’ concerns is scheduled as a discussion item at the next council meeting, which was held May 9. The next council meeting is Tuesday, May 24, 6 p.m. in council chambers. A link is available at www.pinchercreek.ca for those wishing to attend virtually.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze