Fort Saskatchewan Minor Football saw massive success in 2021. Let’s take a look back at where it all began.
The concept of bringing Fort Saskatchewan Minor Football to the forefront was born more than a decade ago in the backroom of the then Maple Tree Grill in Fort Saskatchewan. Chris Malo, the minor football coaching director, was working as a high school football coach at the time; he and nine other like-minded people sat around the table and hammered out their vision.
“It became challenging for Fort Saskatchewan at the high school level with our football teams when you’re starting with players that have never played football before,” Malo explained.
“We had a very small idea that became very big.”
One of the people instrumental in bringing the vision to reality was Wally Bawol, who passed away in 2010. Bawol was the first coach to lead the brand-new bantam team and understood the value of bringing football to youth in the community.
“Wally was a fantastic individual and a fantastic coach,” said Malo. “He was a guy that was a very gentle coach, worked really well with the kids, a very good recruiter. He just loved the game of football.”
He explained Bawol was looking for a home for the bantam team he was coaching at the time, which led the two to join forces and usher Fort Saskatchewan minor football into today’s era.
“At the beginning, it was a very modest endeavour, and our goal was just to have kids playing football. It’s still our goal. Over those years, it’s been fun to see the development of football and the players as well.”
Minor football in Fort Saskatchewan has continuously grown and developed into producing competitive teams. Their most recent season saw major success, with both bantam and peewee teams finishing undefeated and earning the provincial title.
Their success hasn’t been limited to on the field, either. The Falcons have a close relationship with the local high school team and have worked hard to foster a culture of community involvement and personal development. In August 2021, they hosted a double-header football game and food drive at Taurus Field in support of the Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank.
“I would really hope that Wally would be very proud of where we brought up his vision of where minor football should be,” Malo continued.
Looking ahead to the next season, Malo hopes to build on the successes of 2021. He’s looking forward to seeing where their veteran players take their football careers as well as seeing the up-and-coming younger players develop their skills. Malo will also be working on some coaching clinics to help improve the sport in communities league-wide.
He concluded by saying they’re always looking for new players, even if they’re brand-new to the game, as football is for everybody.
“I think there’s a big misconception out there that I hear with football – A couple of things: I’m too big, I’m too slow. Nope. You’re an athlete in my mind. If you have a body, you’re an athlete, and it’s about finding out what kind of athlete you are. We always have a spot for you on a football team.”