Six members of the Comox Valley Raiders Football club have been selected to play in Alberta British Columbia (ABC) Border Bowl games, Saturday, May 25 in Kelowna. The challenge pits all-star teams from Alberta and B.C. against one another in multiple age groups.
Bryce Benton and Ethan Johnsen will play for the B.C. Rising Selects, Drew Wootton and Brodie Lawrie for the Rising Stars, Ashton Lepard for the BC Future Stars and Caleb Gosselin-Elliott will suit up for the B.C. Young Stars. Wootton — one of the club’s top athletes — was selected to play for the B.C. U16 team last year at the Western Canada Challenge in Edmonton.
Border Bowl games can be viewed at www.vbnsports.com.
“It’s growing every year,” Raiders president Jay Daniels said of the annual event. “They train all year. It’s a nice platform for them to play at such a high level. Everybody’s good, so they have to elevate their game in order to play. They have to rise to the challenge.”
He notes Brodie, Ashton, Ethan and Caleb are Campbell River residents.
The Raiders also had one player — Sebastian Lambert, 14, of Denman Island — selected to the national team that will play in December in the Snoop Youth Football League in Los Angeles. Rapper Snoop Dogg founded the non-profit for inner-city children to play football.
“It’s only his second year playing,” Daniels said of Sebastian, a wide receiver. “He’s been a swimmer. He’s one of the fastest kids I’ve ever seen. Great hands, really athletic.”
About 70 youths in the six- to 18-year age bracket are playing in the five-on-five flag football league, which is at the mid-point of the season.
“For us to be competitive (with Victoria and Lower Mainland teams), we have to train all year-round and stay active,” Daniels said.
Along with developing football talent, Raiders’ coaches teach players a base of core values, consisting of honour, excellence, leadership and community.
“Everything we teach is based on those principles,” Daniels said.
The Raiders next fund-raising event is a Burger and Beverage night, June 4 at Match Eatery at the casino in Courtenay.
The club aims to raise $25,000 this year to purchase new equipment, including jerseys and about 60 helmets, which have exceeded their expiry date.
“Football Canada is taking tackle football away from kids 12 and under,” Daniels said. “We don’t play 12 men, we play nine. But even at nine, we’re finding the peewee division is not developing properly. We’re going to move to a six-man game, which is the next step down. We’re like the pilot program for B.C.”
The Raiders welcome and appreciate any donations and corporate sponsorships.
Anyone wishing to help can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit comoxvalleyraiders.com