Gee-Gees pay homage to teammate during Panda Game

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Members of Francis Perron's family wore shirts with his jersey number to the Panda Game between the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton University Ravens on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Perron, 25, died Sept. 18, shortly after a game in Toronto. (Catherine Morasse/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Members of Francis Perron's family wore shirts with his jersey number to the Panda Game between the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton University Ravens on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Perron, 25, died Sept. 18, shortly after a game in Toronto. (Catherine Morasse/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees honoured their teammate who died two weeks before the Panda Game between them and the Carleton University Ravens.

Saturday's game was the first time the grieving football team had played in Ottawa since the start of the season — and came away with a win at TD Place Stadium.

"This game was for him.The whole week, we were all saying it, we need this game, for Francis," said teammate Ben Maracle.

Francis Perron, 25, died on Sept. 18 shortly after the team's season opener in Toronto.

Fellow team members said, given the circumstances, their win was especially emotional.

"I think the whole team is thinking of him," Kylian Freslon told Radio-Canada. "It meant a lot for us to win this game today. So I think he was with us on the pitch."

"Francis, we did all of this for you. All week, all season, that's it for you. We think of you," said Christopher Cyril who plays defensive back for the team.

"We lost one of our brothers, but we remained resilient."

Perron's family were also there to watch the game and honour the mechanical engineering student's memory.

Catherine Morasse/Radio-Canada
Catherine Morasse/Radio-Canada

Around 70 members of his family rented two buses to travel to the game from Sherbrooke, Que., wearing shirts with his jersey number — 99 — and holding his helmet and picture frames with his jersey inside.

University of Ottawa President and Vice-Chancellor Jacques Frémont was also at Saturday's match. He underlined how the death of the young man has affected students and staff.

"It's atrocious for the whole community," he said. "It's so sad."

Police watch crowds

This was the first time the Panda Game has taken place since the start of the pandemic. Last year's match was cancelled.

Ottawa police officers have been watching how this year's events unfolded throughout the afternoon and evening. In the past, large crowds have often congregated in the Glebe, Old Ottawa South and Sandy Hill.

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