Football league looking to expand

A regional sporting club with strong ties to Summerland wants to expand its appeal and participant numbers.

Penticton Minor Football has announced plays for a flag football program designed to introduce the sport to a broader audience. The program would run for four weeks from April 8 to May 10 for children aged 8 to 15.  The club will, as it has in the past, provide all the necessary football-related equipment. The cost is $40 for the four weeks.

Summerland resident Lorraine Sopow, who serves as the association’s director-secretary, said the association wants to build numbers for a sport still trying to establish itself in the region.

“It is really hard to get kids involved in new sports,” she said.

Penticton Minor Football is entering its fifth year, with some 70 children aged 9-18 playing in four age divisions.

This number pales in comparison to the membership numbers for minor hockey and soccer, a fact, which Sopow acknowledges without hesitation.

“Everybody either plays soccer or hockey in the valley,” she said.

Hence the introduction of flag football, which is a “little bit less intense” than tackle football, as a way to generate interest in a sport that must not only compete against the more established sports, but also countless other recreation alternatives that might require less commitment than football.

Sopow also notes that the sport might also encounter image problems among parents who “might not be thrilled” about seeing their children being tackled, fears that have only increased with a growing number of reports exploring the relationship between long-term health and concussions in full contact sports such as football and hockey.

Sopow notes that minor football players learn how to tackle and get tackled properly. 

The B.C. Football Association has also recently taken steps to protect children against concussions.

“We don’t take any chances,” she said.

The rewards of football can be significant, said Sopow. “It is a great game,” she said. 

“It teaches leadership and (teamwork) like no other sport than I can think of,” she said.

And despite its masculine image, football is a sport for all. “It is good for girls too. It is not only a boy’s sport.”

For more information about Penticton Minor Football, see pentictonminorfootball.com or call 250-494-2229.