There’s no better way to kick off football fun than with a tailgate party.
And the Comox Valley Raiders played perfect hosts to the Game Ready Spring Training football camp at Bill Moore Memorial Park on May 2-3 when they held a tailgate party on Friday to get things going.
“A great weekend of football,” was how Raiders’ coach Matt Holst summed up the event. “We were looking to host a fun-filled weekend of football and things could not have been better. The Canadian Football League players brought a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm and this does nothing but help promote football in the Comox Valley,” Holst said.
CFLers Paris Jackson, JR Larose, Jason Arakgi, Justin Sorenson, Tim Cronk and Ryan Lucas were the instructors. “All the CFL players are associated to Game Ready Fitness, a Youth Development Program based in the Greater Vancouver area that aims to provide positive leadership to youth in the community,” Holst said.
“The camp was for all players eight to 18 years of age and there were over 50 kids on the field during a great two days of football. Most of the players were from the hometown Raiders, but players from Campbell River, Nanaimo and Parksville also participated in what truly was a positive football experience,” Holst said.
The tailgate party was open to the public on Friday night to kick off the weekend. “The Raiders thank Comox Valley Nissan for sponsoring the football camp and providing the food for the party,” Holst said.
“There were a lot of smiles on Friday night as all the kids were entertained by some mini games until the CFL players arrived. Once they arrived the kids were given the chance to meet and mingle with them and obtain autographs. Black sharpie pens were a hot commodity this night and all weekend as the CFL players were enthusiastic to meet everyone and sign footballs, pictures, and shirts,” Holst said.
The weather could not have been better for the two days of football that followed the party. The players worked hard and learned a lot in the sunshine. Opportunities to learn from the pros do not come along often and all of the players on the field were eager to take advantage of the chance to become better players, Holst said.
By Sunday afternoon spectators could clearly see the improvement amongst all the players. Another highlight from Sunday afternoon was a guest appearance from Dino Geremia, Technical Director with Football BC. Geremia came to speak to the camp participants about football and safe contact, and to check out the strides that the Raiders are taking to improve their football program.
“Everyone associated with the Comox Valley Raiders were quite pleased with the results of the football camp as there was a lot of positive feedback from players and parents,” said Holst. “The CFL players also commented on how much fun they had coaching the kids and how hospitable the Comox Valley always is when they come here, as this is the third year that the Raiders have hosted a Game Ready football camp.”
As well as Comox Valley Nissan, the Raiders send a huge thank you to Boston Pizza, the Old House Village Hotel and Spa, and Courtenay Fish and Game for providing meals, accommodation, and entertainment for the CFL players.
The Raiders’ concession also thanks Butchers Block, Cloves Catering, Planet Clean and Thrifty Foods for their donations. “The Raiders are a non-profit organization and would not be able to provide the opportunity for kids to play football without the support of the community,” Holst said.
Football season continues as Spring Fundamental Football runs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday until June 21. “Registration has reached maximum capacity, which is a great sign of things to come for Raiders football,” Holst said.