The Strathmore Community Football Association (SCFA) has officially resumed its new season and is gearing up to see games in full swing come September.
Doug Thiessen, SCFA president and head coach of the peewee team, said he’s optimistic regarding the upcoming season of play, particularly with athlete attendance climbing from last year.
“We started (Aug. 8) and it’s picking up. We’ve got our schedule for the peewee’s – they’re started, (and) the bantams already have a great number of kids, we may even have enough to move to the 12-man league if we get a few more joining up,” said Thiessen. “That would be exciting, because they’ve had to play nine man for the last few years. And then on the peewee side, we’re on track right now, I’d say we have about 20 kids, my goal would be to get to 30, at least because then we can run two full teams and work against each other and really improve the team and the skills and give everybody a chance to play multiple positions.”
Thiessen said he has been looking to see the local Badgers teams under the SCFA recover their numbers to numbers seen before COVID-19 affected youth sporting events, since restrictions have been largely lifted in Alberta, and combined with the onset of strict athlete safety regulations enforced by provincial standards.
Last season both the bantam and the peewee teams barely had enough players to muster for play, even for the league supporting smaller teams.
“Last year was our first season back post COVID. We were really slim on kids — I think we had about 13 bantams and about 17 peewees,” said Thiessen. “This year, we’re already looking like we’re ahead of that with both teams already. I’m hoping … I’d like to get back to… peewee teams that were in that 25 to 35 range (of players).”
Thiessen stressed that provincial safety standards for play are very strict when it comes to the athletes, and for many parents who are worries about concussions, though they do happen, they are few and far between.
“Football has undergone changes to reduce concussions (and we) make sure we handle concussions better … because there’s been lots of talk about it in the past. And so, I just always try to make sure parents understand like everyone … has already had safe contact training and all those things as required by football Alberta,” he said.
“We have a full concussion protocol set up, we train our trainers on concussion protocol, the coaches are up to speed on concussion protocol, and we work with people in town that specialize in concussions to help us get better.”
Regarding their performance record, Thiessen is hoping the team has a stronger year, with the peewees being completely skunked out of taking a single win in the previous season.
“In all my years of head coaching, last year was the first time I’d ever never won a game and actually the first time we didn’t make the playoffs,” said Thiessen.
Both the bantam and the peewee teams are accepting new athletes right up until the end of the first game, which is tentatively scheduled in the second week of September.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times