With the CFL and Edmonton Eskimos now in full swing, preparation starts for the Fort Saskatchewan-based Lightning bantam football team for another season. Many people are unaware that there is a thriving minor football league operating in Capital district area.
The Capital District Minor Football Association (CDMFA) has tiered levels (4 tiers) at the atom (8 – 10 yrs), pee wee (11 – 12 yrs) and bantam (13 – 15 yrs) divisions. The season starts in mid-August and runs to mid-October.
While the Lightning practices and plays out of Fort Saskatchewan, players also come from surrounding communities including Bruderheim, Lamont, Gibbons, Namao and Redwater. Other than phys-ed or school yard pick up games, the vast majority of players have never played football previously
Unlike hockey, with the exception of personal items (undergarments & footwear), all equipment is provided with registration. Equipment is the exact brand and make as used by the pros in the CFL. Only the highest calibre of equipment is used by the Fort Saskatchewan Minor Football Association. Player helmets are returned to the manufacturer and recertified and equipment is regularly maintained and replaced on an annual basis.
Player safety is the prime focus. Players are placed into positions where they will succeed and gain confidence and where they are not overmatched by size or skill. Smaller slighter and quicker players usually play as outside receivers or defensive backs, and the more robust bodied players handle the blocking duties. Coaches are National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) level 2 and 3 certified with extensive experience (25+ yrs) at the minor and high school levels.
Player skills are developed through progression in practice (individual time, unit time and team time), through instruction and positive feedback. Terminology and methods are something that have been developed over 25+ years of coaching and the players seem to pick things up rather quickly.
There is more to football than football and personal growth is a big part of football. The boys grow not only as players, team mates and individuals, but also accept the concepts of discipline, accountability, trust, leadership and positive self image – traits that will stay with them through high school and beyond.
Team building, camaraderie and relaxed and varied practices keep interest going, makes learning fun and contribute to a positive experience. The Lightning motto is Everybody Welcome, Everybody Plays. The goal is to get each player as much field time during a game as is possible. The amount will vary due to game situations and of course player safety will take precedence.
While the Lightning want to be competitive, the scoreboard is not always an indicator of a good game, coaches want to see the players perform to the best of their abilities at all times, want to practice well, play well and develop as a team and individuals.
Along with physical fitness, team building, camaraderie the social aspect is also a big part of football, we want the players to enjoy themselves, make new friendships, learn about Canadian Football and most of all have Fun!
A big team highlight this year is the Lightning’s participation this year’s Edmonton Grey Cup festivities. Aside from proudly marching in the Grey Cup Parade, they have been invited to participate in the Eskimos sponsored 6-on-6 tournament during Grey Cup Week
The Lightning still have spots available for this season and are looking for interested players. Experience is not required.
Check out Lightning Bantam Football on their website: www.lightningfootballteam.com
– Wally Bawol, Fort Saskatchewan Bantam Lightning Coach