The Hamilton Minor Football Association is encouraging parents to consider tackle football when it comes to recreation this summer and fall for their children – boys and girls.
Manny Rebelo, director of communications with the HMFA and head coach of the West Mountain Bantam Rough Riders, said the league, now into its 49th season, is still taking registration for players age eight to 18.
He said youngsters interested in playing and their parents can check out the league by dropping by a minor football team practice in their area.
“Come out with a friend or a buddy…and see what it’s like,” he said.
About 500 youngsters are expected to play on minor football house league and rep teams this season.
Twice-a-week practices begin in July and each squad will play eight weekly regular season games at Mohawk Sports Park starting in mid September and all house league sign-ups are guaranteed playing time.
House league championship games will be played at Ivor Wynne Stadium and Rebelo noted this is the final season that youngsters will have a chance to play at Ivor Wynne before it’s torn down.
Rebelo said the number of youths playing minor football has been declining in recent years and the league is hoping to attract youngsters from families of new Canadians who may come from countries where soccer or cricket are the preferred sports and North American-style football is virtually unknown.
While there is blocking and tackling, Rebelo maintains minor football is no more or less dangerous than any other sport.
“It comes down to proper coaching,’ he said. “If the techniques are coached properly and the kids learn how to tackle, certainly we’ve lessened the chance of something happening.”
The league supplies full equipment with the exception of cleats (shoes) and a football girdle (optional but recommended) and Rebelo noted all of the league’s coaches have been certified and trained to ensure that every player is wearing their helmet and shoulder pads correctly.
HMFA teams are named after Canadian Football league clubs.
This season the house league clubs are: the East Mountain Lions, West Mountain Rough Riders, Stoney Creek Bombers, East Hamilton Stampeders and the Westdale Eskimos.
Each club operates three teams in the atom, pee wee and bantam age groups and each of the 25-30 player rosters are filled with youngsters from the team’s part of the city.
The Junior Tiger-Cats are the rep teams at each age group that choose players by tryout.
They play in the Central Ontario Minor Football League.
Registration for house league is $375 and $550 for the rep teams.
See www.hamiltonminorfootball.ca for more information.
Hundreds of HMFA alumni have gone on to play football at Canadian and U.S universities and in the CFL.