Whether or not there is a football season this year, the Regina Thunder of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) are uncertain the team would have the financial means needed to lace up.
With the fate of the CJFL season, set to begin in August, up in the air due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Thunder need to finance a budget of about $300,000.
The team raises that money through sponsorships and fundraisers, with nearly a quarter of it coming from the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie recently stated that the CFL season is “most likely” to be cancelled.
“We’re a non-profit organization and we rely on corporate sponsors within the community, and when they are affected and maybe their revenues are down, their ability to help out the non-profits change as well,” said Scott MacAulay, Regina Thunder head coach.
“The Saskatchewan Roughriders and the 50-50s done by the University of Regina Rams, we’ve always been able to benefit from their efforts every year, and it’s a substantial amount of money.
“If there is no CFL or a minimized season, I’m sure the funding we get from the Saskatchewan Roughriders that keeps us afloat will be minimal or none.”
The Thunder are still hoping for help from other sponsors but realize that if companies negatively impacted by the pandemic have funds left to donate, they may go to more essential organizations.
“(Women’s shelters) need help, the Regina food banks need help, the YMCA, the YWCA. There’s a lot of different non-profits out there and even in our world. There’s hockey, football, baseball,” MacAulay said.
The team also relies on fundraisers like its annual sports dinner, which has been postponed, along with an NFL pool.
Money raised also goes towards a scholarship fund for Thunder players, which totalled about $45,000 last year.
“Out of a team of 80-some players, we had 45 guys receive scholarships, and that is for the University of Regina, Saskatchewan Polytechnic … it’s something a lot of them need,” MacAulay said.
While coaches and players continue to prepare online for the season, MacAulay says he views it as a chance to grow as a team and as people.
Last season, the Thunder went 6-3 and finished third in the Prairie Conference.
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