With their regular season underway, the Oceanside Youth Football Association’s Oceanside Lions and Titans are both off to a hot start.
Two teams — the Lions (peewee) and Titans (junior bantam) — are competing with teams across the Island in two age categories.
Open to boys and girls, teams started practising late in the summer to gear up for the fall season, which kicked off September 12 with exhibition play and will run into late November.
“We’ve got some excited players again this season,” OYFA league president Jody Chambers said. “Our numbers are up once again in the peewee division and we’re very pleased with that.”
“We continue to try and get the word out about football in the Oceanside area, not just at the high school level but within our association as well,” Chambers said.
“It’s our goal every year to try and see our numbers in registration grow and we’re definitely headed in the right direction.”
Of course, getting those numbers comes with challenges. The most common is the physicality of the game of football itself.
While it is a contact sport, much like hockey, the game of football in British Columbia has seen a grassroots development that’s included teaching players of all ages the importance of not only proper technique when it comes to tackling, but learning and teaching the safety aspects involved as well.
“I think that’s a huge part of it,” Chambers said. “A lot of parents are weary about having their children join because they’re worried about the physical aspect of the game and that’s very understandable. But the biggest thing that we’ve seen over the last little while is how the game is being taught to players starting out.”
“We’re not just sending kids out there to hit anything that moves, they’re being taught the right way from the start on how to hit, how to protect themselves while making a hit and how to do it in a way that keeps everyone as safe as possible.”
“At the end of the day, it’s still just a game like any other game and those lessons go a long way.”
Players and coaches in the OYFA have attended camps across B.C. to learn more about the game — including a camp in Duncan earlier this year — to learn the importance of proper tackling from several B.C. Lions players.
Along with learning the game, the OYFA offers something that no other sport in the area does.
“We’re unique in that we offer all players equipment with registration,” Chambers said. “You don’t see a lot of that in other sports.”
“All you’re required here with us is to bring a positive attitude and a pair of cleats. If you’ve got both of those, we’ll supply the rest of the equipment. It’s just one of the many great things that we’ve got to offer here in our football community at the grassroots level.”
Visit www.oceansideyouthfootball.ca for more information.