Friday, July 9, 2021

Saskatoon Minor Football rides momentum of national award

By Darren Steinke
Gordie Howe Sports Complex

A running back takes off in a high school academy game in fall of 2020.
For crew at Saskatoon Minor Football, the focus was to keep players playing with no thoughts on getting any awards.

When a big award came from Football Canada, it was a pleasant surprise.

This past April, Saskatoon Minor Football was named the winner of Football Canada’s Organization of the Year Award for 2020. The award was given largely due to the fact Saskatoon Minor Football was able to bring back game action with the world stuck in the grips of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Most minor football organizations in Canada weren’t able to take the field in 2020.

The administrators and officials with Saskatoon Minor Football put in countless hours of work formulating return to play plans and ultimately were able to get back on the field.

Brian Guebert, who is the executive director for Saskatoon Minor Football, said the biggest reward was seeing players excited over being able to play the game once again.

“We knew it was worth it from the get go,” said Guebert. “Providing opportunities for our kids to do what they love is our number one priority.

“To give a safe environment in which to do that whether that is COVID safety or player safety, that is priority number one for us and the reason why we are a successful organization and have such a loyal following in the city.”

While a huge national accolade wasn’t expected, Guebert said it was still special for Saskatoon Minor Football to earn recognition as Football Canada’s Organization of the Year Award.

“That is super exciting,” said Guebert. “There are so many great organizations across the country.

The Kinsmen Football League was in action in the fall of 2020.
“To be recognized by our national sports organization as one of the best, that just speaks tonnes to our members, our players, our coaches, and all the organizers involved. We’re super proud of that award.”

Guebert said it was extremely challenging to get back on the field in 2020 dealing with all the Public Health Orders and protocols that were brought in to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with those huge obstacles, he added it was amazing to see everyone involved with Saskatoon Minor Football rally to make a season a reality.

“It was a hero’s effort to try and make everything happen,” said Guebert. “Our coordinators, our board and our coaches, everybody just came together.

“Our managers, our people in charge of COVID protocols. Everybody just stepped up and played a huge role to make sure that could make football happen this past year.”

With high school football getting cancelled in 2020, Saskatoon Minor Football ensured high school aged athletes were able to get on the field creating a six-team academy league in the fall of 2020. The caliber of play in the league was top notch.

“It was awesome like really exciting to see those kids playing,” said Guebert. “All the games were so competitive.

“The talent is really remarkable in Saskatoon and what our coaches can do when you put together kind of even like drafted all-star teams like that. It is a lot of fun. Not enough can be said about the quality of amateur football in our city.”

The Kinsmen Football League also resumed play in the fall of 2020 thanks to the work of Saskatoon Minor Football. Players who were in Grades 6 to 9 took part in six-man tackle contests.

“It was great to see the Kinsmen kids playing too,” said Guebert. “There is just so much credit to our coaches for making it possible to happen.

The Rush spring high school football female flag league is popular.
“There was no junior football last year, and there was no high school football last year. Being able to offer something to our players was so rewarding.”

Saskatoon Minor Football road the momentum it established in 2020 to run a number of successful programs this past May and June. The programs included Tykes on Spikes, which introduces players aged three to six to the game, flag football and six-a-side tackle football for various age groups and the Rush spring high school football female flag league.

On top of those programs, Saskatoon Minor Football ran another series of academy games for high school aged players. Players who took part in the academy games were evaluated for the Saskatoon Minor Football all-star teams that will take part in the Prairie Bowl Series against Regina Minor Football.

In the Prairie Bowl Series, the under-16 and varsity high school all-star teams from Saskatoon Minor Football and Regina Minor Football will take part in respective two-game total-points series. The Prairie Bowl Series starts tonight in Regina.

It wraps up in Saskatoon at Saskatoon Minor Football Field on Saturday, July 17. The under-16 game is set for 6 p.m. and the varsity contest follows at 8:30 p.m.

“It is another opportunity just to showcase the talent we have in our city and to involve ourselves in great competition with another amazing organization down with RMF,” said Guebert. “The job (RMF executive director) Len Antonini and his crew did down in Regina is just outstanding as well.

“Any time we have a chance to partner with RMF and do a Prairie Bowl Series like this we jump at the opportunity, and we are really looking forward to these games.”

At all levels of football, Saskatoon and Regina have a sound rivalry. For the players that are involved with the Prairie Bowl Series, Guebert said the rival just adds an extra bonus, and he hopes the players can turn the heads of a few post-secondary coaches.

“Any opportunity these kids have to play more football, they jump at it,” said Guebert. “I think it is great.”

A runner tries to escape in a six-a-side spring tackle game.
Looking forward to the fall, Guebert said there is optimism the season will look a lot more normal than it did in 2020.

Before looking ahead, Guebert added he was really satisfied with how well things went in the spring for Saskatoon Minor Football.

“It has been an awesome spring,” said Guebert. “Even though it was a little condensed and a little in question there at the start, we were so happy we able to get out on the field and make things happen.”


For more information on Saskatoon Minor Football, feel free to check out their website