CFLers help high school football players get back on the field with free camp
CALGARY -- Jack Pasloski was really looking forward to getting onto the football field and showing the Western Canada Redhawks coaching staff how much work he’d put in during the off season.
He says he was even hoping it would give him a chance to take his football career further.
“Four or five months ago the plan was to put on a whole lot of weight over this off-season," he said.
"Go out there and smack some guys and hopefully get a scholarship somewhere but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.”
That’s because the high school football season is on hold. No games have been scheduled due of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But thanks to a group of CFLers past and present, players have been able to get back onto the field. The CFLers decided to get together to help run a high school football training camp.
Alex Ogbongbemiga played for Saskatchewan, Edmonton and B.C. He’s the director of football at the camp and he says it’s all about giving back.
“We always try to make decisions that are best for the kids,” he said. “And so we decided to give our time and gather a good group of guys to do a free camp for the kids.”
You heard that right: the camp is free.
A pretty nice gesture considering the CFL season has been cancelled and that means no football money coming in for the players.
Eli Bouka plays for the Sasktatchewan Roughriders. He says when he was approached to help out with the camp he didn’t hesitate.
“Obviously you could look at the time commitment it is. But at the same time I feel like as an athlete in my position it’s my responsibility to look after my little brothers," he said.
"Look out for the kids in the community.”
Hunter Karl just wrapped up an outstanding career at the University of Calgary. He was able to go out in style by winning the Vanier Cup. Karl was drafted by the Edmonton football club and he says he’s getting just as much out of the camp as the kids are.
“We’re helping a bunch of kids who want to get better and we ourselves are getting better,” he said.
“We have to stay involved. We have to come up with drills or think of new drills and act them out so it keeps us fresh and keeps our feet ready. Hopefully it will help us get ready for next season.”
For the high school football players, it’s a chance to learn from the professionals.
Ruyter Swagar plays for Henry Wisewood. He says even though he doesn’t know if he’ll get to play football this season he’ll forever be grateful to the pros for giving up their time to help him become better football player.
“I would say getting the pros out here and being able to put in work and you know not just watch them on Television it’s pretty crazy," he said.
The training camp is in its second week. It’s scheduled to run for four weeks and the group takes to the field on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.