Being the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, football is a big deal in Regina, but more and more people are moving here who have never seen the sport – and that’s where a group of high school coaches come in.
On Saturday, coaches from six of Regina’s high schools gathered at F.W. Johnson Collegiate to teach kids how to play football. It was meant for kids who are newcomers to Canada, as well as kids who have just never gotten the chance to play the sport.
Jason Janssen is the head coach at F.W. Johnson, and explained that many kids on the teams have been playing for year, so it’s tough for others to get into it.
“We have a lot of kids that are new to the country that come to our schools that are terrified to play because they’ve never seen it before, and, unfortunately for them, the kids that are playing are at such a high level already that it’s really tough to get into it.”
About 50 kids were at the camp. They went through safe tackling exercised, classroom learning, as well as drills outside to give the kids a chance to try out every position.
Brian Arzaga, 16, was at the camp. He’s in tenth grade at Archbishop O’Neill High School. He came to Canada five years ago from the Philippines, and said he’d seen football around since he’d arrived, but had never played.
“I just wanted to try it, and I’m going to try out for the team (next year), so I kind of want to make it,’ explained Arzaga.
He said he was having fun training, but his favourite part was the work at running back.
“That’s the position I want to try out for, for the school team, so I kind of like that one.”
Arzaga already plays several sports, but said if it weren’t for the camp, he probably wouldn’t be trying out for the football team.
The camp was provided to the student for free, with help from the community. Janssen said it’s lucky that people think what they’re doing is important.
“We’re hoping that they’ll get their feet wet here, be a little bit excited, and then go to their own school’s spring camp here in the next month, and have success and stick with it.”
Janssen is hoping they’re able to do a similar camp next year.
“I’m sure, as word of mouth grows, the other seven high schools will probably want to jump on this as well and send kids here as well.”