The Comox Valley Raiders North Island flag football league is wrapping up another successful season. Running Wednesdays at Woodcote Park in Courtenay, this year’s league consists of six teams in the six- to 13-year age bracket, and four teams in the 14- to 18-year division.
“This is our third year doing it,” Raiders president Jay Daniels said. “This year we actually had to turn kids away. Doing the best we can, but there’s lines that we don’t want to cross.”
The province has hired Daniels to run a football academy as regional director for Vancouver Island. Programs run in the Comox Valley and in Victoria. The academy provides a high performance route for athletes aspiring to be selected to Team B.C., which competes in national competitions such as the Canada Cup.
“We’re the only pathway to it,” Daniels said.
Training started in January but games planned for May were cancelled due to COVID. However, there will be regional scrimmages in June, from where B.C. teams will be selected.
“The other guys go to California to play Snoop Bowl,” said Daniels, noting the regional academies are helping young players move onto the next level and play at their desired location.
Raiders receiver Sebastian Lambert, who played with the national team that competed in the Snoop Youth Football League in Los Angeles in 2019, is in the high performance program. The club hopes he moves on to play football at the University of B.C.
Another local talent, Duncan Whetter, a Grade 11 at Isfeld Secondary, has signed to play football at the University of Alberta.
Daniels notes the big gap players face when they move from high school to university football.
“We’re trying to close that gap and give kids a chance,” he said.
The Raiders expect to be back playing fall football this year.