Watch above: kids were learning from the pros at the playground to the pros football camp
SASKATOON – Football continues to gain momentum with youth around Saskatchewan possibly due to the success of the Roughriders or possibly Saskatchewan-born players who are making an impact in the CFL.
Some of that local talent is on the field this week helping young Saskatoon football players learn the fundamentals of the game.
Around 180 kids are going through the paces at Saskatoon Minor Football’s 4th Playground to Pros Camp taking place at the SaskTel Soccer Centre.
“We always say, these kids come with an empty tool box and it’s our job to give them the tools and we’re giving them the tools at a young age and they’re going to become great players as a result of it,” said Brian Guebert, Saskatoon Minor Football commissioner.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman and former Saskatchewan Huskie Patrick Neufeld is one of a number of professional players, Huskies and Hilltops who have turned into coaches for three days.
“We just want to give back to these kids and give them a great experience so they can grow up and appreciate the sport and realize what a great thing it is in this province,” said Neufeld.
“A lot of the guys I still play with only started playing football in high school and now these guys are in grade 5 and 6 and they’re starting to play football now, so they have so many years to get better and just work on their skills and figure out what they’re good at,” said Drew Burko, Huskies quarterback.
The students are all ears.
“They know a lot more about football then I do that’s for sure and I’m pretty sure I’ve learned a lot at this camp from them and I’m pretty sure it’s going to help me later on,” said Boston Davidsen, a second year camp participant.
“It’s really eye opening, they really teach you a lot, it’s been a really good experience,” said Matthew Drabble, who was attending his first camp.
Teaching the kids about fundamentals in turn forces the players turned coaches to practice what they preach, bettering their games as well.
“When I play, I like to play to the whistle, so that’s kind of my big thing just kind of hustle to the whistle and maybe your not the most technically sound and things like that but if you’re willing to play to the whistle and go all out you’ll be fine,” said Levi Steinhauer, a defensive lineman with the Riders.
“Football’s still a game and even at the level I play at, it’s important to remember that it is a game,” said Neufeld.
Football is part of Saskatchewan’s culture, when the Riders, Huskies and Hilltops have success, so to does Saskatoon minor football.
“Maybe when they look back on it, when they think of the quality of coaching they received in one of their first football experiences it’s going to go a long way and have a special place in their memories and that’s what this is all about,” said Guebert.
The three day camp wraps up Thursday.