Youth flag football hits gridiron in Williams Lake

Minor football in B.C.’s Northern Interior is getting a running start thanks to input from the Kelowna-based Leatherheads Football Academy.

Roughly 15 young athletes in Williams Lake were treated to a flag football clinic from Friday, Sept. 20 to Sunday, Sept. 22 at the Thompson Rivers University field where the Leatherheads offered an introduction to the sport to players, along with a free coaching clinic to interested volunteers so they can, hopefully, develop and carry on a minor football program in the region.

Williams Lake saw a brief resurgence of the sport from 2013 to 2014 under the Williams Lake Sabercats moniker where, with head coach Dionte Jelks at the helm, the team thrived for two short seasons before Jelks left the area for employment reasons.

Kelowna’s Adam Witzel of the Leatherheads Football Academy, however, said they want to bring football back to B.C.’s Northern Interior and was thrilled with how the clinic went.

READ MORE: Youth football looks to touch down in B.C. Interior

Witzel said they were contacted by a group of parents in Williams Lake who were interested in getting a program up and running and made time to make the trip north to host a clinic.

“We’re starting at the bare bones,” Witzel said, who noted they are being supported by the BC Community Football Association and the Canadian Football League (CFL) in their efforts to build the sport provincially.

“Right now in Zone 5, which is where Williams Lake and Quesnel fall, there are just two teams in Prince George and Vanderhoof. BC Football would like to see some of these communities get going with the flag football program and eventually translate those skills to a tackle program.”

Aside from teaching players the basics of the sport, a free coaching clinic was also offered to interested volunteers throughout the weekend.

“We’ll support them [the volunteers] from a distance should they want to take this on,” Witzel said. “I’m here and coaches are here from Kelowna to help this going forward.”

READ MORE: Sabercats compete in opener

One such interested volunteer was 21-year-old Jonathan Rova, a lifeguard and swim instructor, who said he thought it would be a fun thing to do after wanting to, but not having the opportunity to play football himself in high school.

“I heard about it on Facebook and I was interested,” Rova said. “When I was younger I never got the opportunity to play football so thought I’d help out.”

For anyone wanting more information on the Leatherheads Football Academy, or the flag football program in Williams Lake, they can join the Leatherheads Facebook page, or e-mail

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