Northern Sask. Football Academy moving the chains for high school players

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WATCH: The Northern Sask. Football Academy has salvaged a semi-season for high school-aged players from around the province – Oct 29, 2020

Following the cancellation of the high school football season, it looked as though players would lose an entire year of competition.

That’s when Saskatoon Minor Football stepped up, offering the Northern Sask. Football Academy, although their season hasn’t been all highs.

Read more: Current Saskatchewan Huskies football players help coach high school athletes

It was through careful planning and cooperation with the Saskatchewan Health Authority that this unique season was allowed to take place.

“We planned to be cautious going forward,” SMF executive director Brian Guebert said. “You know, we’re playing football in a pandemic, anything can happen.

“We made a point of scheduling games two weeks apart, and you know, it served us well.”

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Despite having to shut down due to a COVID-19 exposure on one team, the league’s proactive approach to player safety is ultimately what lead to their return to play.

“We had to shut down one set of games, just putting the health of our players first and foremost was number one,” Guebert said. “But, it was a good learning experience, and I think we can even improve upon it for the future.”

Read more: Saskatoon Valkyries helping empower women in sport

However, once the players were able to return to the gridiron, things looked substantially different, with coaches, players and officials being the only people allowed in the stadium.  But the league’s livestream offered fans and scouts the ability to continue to view the action.

“It’s unfortunate that we can’t watch it live in the stadium, but we can watch it live from the comfort of our homes,” Guebert remarked.

“And, quite frankly, it’s getting colder outside,” he chuckled. “So, it might not be the worst option either.”

It provides a crucial service to senior high school players, who are looking to get to the next level, whether it’s junior or college.

“The number one thing for these senior players, especially, they get to enjoy a few more football games here, and get some film out, and you know, really showcase their talents,” Guebert said.

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Although it’s not just the teens looking to make a career in football that are benefiting from the league.

“Some of them will have opportunities,” coach Pat Barry said. “But, many of them, the reality is, many of them won’t. It might be their last tackle football game, so, you want to do as much as you can for that group of young men.”