A two-week Junior Development Program for football has accomplished what its organizers had hoped by raising awareness and interest for the sport in Neepawa.
Over the past two weeks about 18 kids between the ages of 11 and 14 have been heading to The Flats for the development program offered through Football Manitoba.
A total of six sessions were held going about three hours long each time as youth - many of whom had never played the sport in an organized fashion before - were put through drills while being taught fundamentals and rules of the sport.
The program was designed for beginner football players, free to anyone who signed up and is a competitive way to introduce the game, tackling and proper instruction on how to play.
“It’s been good,” 12-year-old Tysne Stanski said of the camp. “It’s taught me plays and the positions. I liked football before but I love it even more now.”
While Stanski enjoyed the whole camp he, much like many of the youth in attendance, left the development program really enjoying one specific part of the training.
“My favourite was probably the hitting,” Stanski admitted with a grin on his face.
Another new step for many of the athletes in attendance was actually being able to wear football gear. While many said they had played catch or fun football with friends, most had never suited up before.
“It was a nice experience to be able to play with the equipment and to try playing and hitting with it on,” Stanski explained. “It’s a lot different than playing without any on.”
Over the two weeks various players and coaches came out to lead the sessions, including the Westman Youth Football League director Rob Cullen and Westman Wolverines coach Dave Stantial.
Stantial, who was coaching on the final day of the program last Friday along with three former NACI Tigers football players, pointed out while the youth were clearly enjoying themselves, they were also catching on to the sport very quickly.
“Some of the kids here have real talent. They’re doing a great job and footwork is coming along very well,” Stantial explained. “It’s always good to introduce the sport at a younger age.”
Neepawa’s recreation and leisure services manager Amanda Cathcart, whose son Rory took part in the camp, was also happy with how the program ran and hopes to see its success continued in to next year.
“All I have heard from parents is how much their kids are loving it,” Cathcart said. “We hope to drum up enough interest to get enough kids to make a team to enter in to the Westman Youth Football League in the spring of 2013.”
Anyone interested in helping with such a team can contact Amanda at 476-7614.