Young flag football players took to the BC Lions’ practice field in Surrey for a tournament that will see the winner go to a Grey Cup-week championship of their own, in Edmonton this fall.
Now in its second year, the B.C. region CFL/NFL Flag Football tourney was held June 24 at the facility in Whalley, where nine teams of 10- and 11-year-olds participated. They included Cloverdale Elite (in green), North Surrey Destroyers (yellow) and the eventual tourney winners, Kelowna Pack Attack (orange).
In Edmonton, the Kelowna squad will represent B.C. among winners of 10 regional tournaments held across Canada this summer. The winner of the Grey Cup-related tourney will then compete in the NFL’s flag championship, held during Pro Bowl week early next year.
In the U12 final in Surrey, Kelowna edged the Cloverdale squad by a score of 19-6. To get to the final, the Kelowna team doubled North Surrey 14-7 in the semifinal.
This was the first year in Surrey for the CFL/NFL regional flag tourney; last year’s event was held in Abbotsford.
The program, open to players born on or after Jan. 1, 2007, is a way “to highlight and showcase flag football as a method of instructing players on football fundamentals, sportsmanship and teamwork while promoting physical activity,” according to a CFL release.
Last year’s inaugural tournament saw the Junior Riders of Saskatchewan put together an overall record of 11-0-1 between regionals and the championship. They outscored opponents 266-47, including a 20-7 win over Surrey Tigers, the B.C. reps, during Grey Cup week. The win earned them a trip to Pro Bowl Week in Orlando, where they went 2-2, beating two teams from China and falling to squads from Mexico and the U.S.
It’s all part of growing the game of football in Canada, according to tournament planners.
“Flag football is a fun, exciting and easy way for youth to get into the game, and can develop important life skills including teamwork, commitment and the value of leading a healthy, active lifestyle,” noted David Thomson, managing director of NFL Canada.
More tournament details are posted at cflnflflag.ca.