It’s an emotional moment in life when something you wanted for so long comes to fruition.
Chris Foley can relate.
The diehard football fan has been trying to get a youth tackle football program going in Corner Brook for the past five years with little to show for his efforts other than a small group of people giving flag football a go.
That’s about to change now that there are 100 full sets of football equipment available for youth to embrace the tackle game in both Corner Brook and St. John’s.
“It’s hard to wipe the smile off my face right now, I’ll guarantee you that much,” Foley said Tuesday. “It’s a one-in-a-million chance of this happening and we’re thankful to have this equipment and everything we need. It’s basically a dream come true. It’s what I’ve been aiming for over the last five years and to have this kind of dropped in my lap is great.”
Dionne and Justin Winsor are the ones responsible for putting him in good spirits.
The Winsors, who moved to Corner Brook back in September, are the donors of the equipment.
The couple ran the Mavericks youth tackle football program in Napanee, Ont., for students in Grades 7-9 for five years before making the move to Corner Brook for work purposes.
“I love football and the atmosphere it brings, and it’s a great platform that every single child can participate in,” said Dionne, who pointed out that a team requires people of all different sizes and skill sets.
That opens the game to a wide range of children.
Dionne said the 12-14 age group is the most appropriate age group to be building a program around because it’s a perfect age for those who want to pursue the sport to learn it before it becomes competitive at the high school, college or university level.
She doesn’t have a problem with younger youth picking up the sport. She’s had several people ask why can’t younger ones get involved, but she believes it’s better for the younger ones to entertain the option of flag football. She believes sticking with the older age group makes it easier to control things from the safety side of it.
“My heart breaks for those kids,” she said of those too young to register this year. “And I just say one more year and they’re qualified, and they can join the program if they’re still interested.”
The plan is to form a 52-player roster for a tackle football team from Corner Brook to compete against St. John’s in the fall of the year.
Registration will be held in February and all participants will have to participate in an eight-week combine program that will teach the players about the safety risks, learn the rules and get a better sense of what the game entails from a physical and mental side.
Nobody gets to put on the equipment until organizers feel they are ready for it.
Formation of the 50-man roster will get underway when summer rolls around and then it’s the real deal with a rivalry between west and east getting started.
Foley is staying connected to the game, but he’s happy to let the Winsors lead the way with hopes of learning what it takes to run a successful youth tackle football program.
It’s been a long process for Foley.
He’s glad he never got off track, even when there were times it looked like nothing was going to materialize.