As the Chestermere Chiefs football program ramps up training sessions and gets ready for a spring camp, thoughts have already turned to how great it would be to be playing real games right now.
This the first season the Chiefs will field a bantam team as their program has expanded, and excitement is building as training camp approaches on June 22-24.
The season for all levels — atom, peewee and bantam — kicks off in August, the same time as the older teenagers are suiting up for their high school season.
For the past decade though, Calgary has run a spring league for high school age kids — formerly called midget — and Chiefs bantam head coach Chris Bailey believes it would be a good idea for Chestermere to have one too.
He met with Chestermere Cowboys coach Scott Ledieu and the two came to the same conclusion: This should be something they should jump on immediately.
“I told the high school coach that maybe we should get the first game out of the way for bantam and start looking towards that,” Bailey said with a laugh. “We would like to field the bantam team first but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be an easy thing to do.
We already have the players and they can use the equipment from the high school. All we have to do is put your name on some jerseys and you are good to go.
“We have a few hoops to jump through but it would be a lot easier because we already have the players in place. We wouldn’t have to worry because we would have enough players to field a spring team because they will be given to us from the high school.
“That would be the easy part. The only thing we have to do is come up with some uniforms and that would be around $8,000-$10,000. We can also apply for grants and everything too.”
When the Chiefs were starting their bantam program this winter, it took some time to drum up the players to commit. The peewee players that graduated into bantam — which is for kids in Grades 7, 8 and 9 — went elsewhere to continue playing, so it was tough to bring them back after creating a bond with the team they joined.
“If we would have had a bantam team last year we would have been able to retain a lot more,” Bailey said. “The kids that are with the program seem to like it and are staying with the program.”
The Chiefs have been holding twice weekly training sessions to get the kids moving and ease them into the season later in the summer. All levels warm up together and then split off into their groups to run some drills and work on skills.
It seems to be working well, as Bailey doesn’t want to shock the bantam players when they hit the camp at the end of June.
“The kids who want to get a head start on running around and catching a ball, just trying to stay in good shape, that’s our intent with this,” Bailey said. “Instead of being at home on their computer or xbox or iPad, they can actually do something constructive.
“The bantam camp’s solely evaluation. Every practice we teach safe contact so that’s first and foremost the main focus. After that, we’re just evaluating what we have.
“There’s about 10 kids we’ve never met before. It will be good to see who can play line, who can play quarterback, running back and receiver. It will be interesting to evaluate that.”