Six-person football teams with an emphasis on skill development is the direction the Penticton Minor Football Association is headed.
Lorraine Sopow, secretary/registrar for PMFA, said they will be offering these teams for nine to 18-year-olds (separating the age groups). She and president Dave Johnson came up with the idea after time constraints from the Southern Interior Football Conference, which governs the Okanagan and Shuswap area, prevented them from having time to assemble a team.
Sopow added that six-a-side football is played in many places where the numbers are a struggle (such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Texas and other places in Canada). She quoted the Football Canada website, which said, “Football Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Football League, are proud to promote 6-A-Side Football…Half the number of players — twice the athlete.”
Sundays will be game days with practices held at McNicoll Park on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There will be no travel involved. Sopow said they are flexible in how they organize the program.
“We are hoping that this will allow parents to be more receptive to having their children (boys and girls) try the sport without the significant travel and time commitments,” she said.
The association hasn’t come up with a cost for this year, but it’s expected to be significantly lower than what is listed on their registration forms. The decision was made earlier this week and the PMFA is trying to get information out to the public. Sopow said it is disappointing to go with this approach, but she said it also isn’t completely surprising.
“I believe that if we are to really establish football here in the south we will have to start with the basics,” said Sopow. “What better way to do this then with a smaller, more focused platform. Although it is not full-sized teams, it will allow players to learn the basics of the game and focus on building skills.”
The PMFA has hope this format will help kids love the sport and then field a team in the next season or two at the league level.
The PMFA has noticed a perception that football is “too rough and dangerous” and is something they are faced with constantly.
“Honestly, football is less likely to result in injuries as compared to other sports that do not require protective equipment,” she said. “And the fact that they are taught properly how to stand, how to tackle and be tackled safely – is very important. We are hoping that by changing the format it might entice more participation.”
In other PMFA news, Sopow said that she and Johnson will be stepping back after this season and will be seeking individuals interested in filling their roles.To sign up for the new program, contact Sopow at 250-494-2229 or email her at email@example.com.