For the first time, the Chestermere Chiefs Football minor football will be fielding a bantam team.
“We’re starting from scratch and it’ll be interesting because it’ll be a big learning curve for sure,” said Bantam Chiefs Head Coach Chris Bailey.
He said that they have some kids who played Peewee with the Chiefs as well as some kids new to the club joining the Bantam program.
“It’s good for our club…to have that level of football,” said Bailey.
“Last year we didn’t have a Bantam team and we ended up losing players to Calgary teams,” he said.
Along with giving kids a chance to play football with their home club, the Bantam program will also help the Chestermere High School Football team as kids entering high school will have had the chance to play two years of Bantam before trying out for the school team.
While the advantages to having a Bantam program here in Chestermere are huge, Bailey said that the challenges of starting up are just as big.
“You have to figure out what players are gonna play in what position,” he said, “you don’t have a set group of kids that have played the previous year in the same position.”
In addition to building a team that can learn to play together without a core of veteran players from last season, there’s a lot of administrative and logistical work to be done before they play their first game.
“We…had to get new equipment from scratch,” said Bailey.
“We’re still getting kids pieced together with new kneepads and earpads, and some of them have helmets that are old, from old teams that don’t exist anymore, so it’s been a challenge for a lot of reasons,” said Bailey.
Another challenge has been getting all the players on the field for training camp.
“Being the middle of summer, there’s a lot of kids that are still on vacation and stuff so it’s hard,” he said.
“No one should really ever plan their vacation around minor sports, but once everybody is done from vacation then it’ll be a lot easier to place kids ‘cause we’ll have a full team,” he said.
They are still looking for more players and coaches for the new team.
“We’re eager for more players, we’re eager for more coaches, for any type of help we can get,” he said.
Bailey is hopeful that everything will be ready to go by kickoff of their first game on Aug. 25.
That first game will come with a steep learning curve for the Bantam Chiefs.
“We play the defending city champions first game of the season, so it’s gonna be a really sharp learning curve,” he said.
After that, when they see the level of football they need to play at Bailey expects things to get easier from there.
Without out knowing the competitiveness of the Bantam league, Bailey said that aren’t setting the expectations too high for the season.
For them, the goal is to be competitive in every game, regardless of whether they win or lose.
“If we’re competitive, you know, we could win one, two, maybe three or four or five games,” he said.
“Even if we go 0-8, but we’re competitive, at least we can take…pride in that,” said Bailey.
He doesn’t think a winless season is likely though.
“We could field a fantastic team,” said Bailey.
“We don’t have a lot of numbers, I think we’re only at thirty players, but of the thirty we have, there’s a lot of talented athletes,” he said.
And although they’ve only had a few practices, Bailey said that all the kids are trying really hard.
“It makes a difference,” he said.
To for more information or to register a player go to chestermerechiefs.com.