Making the NSSAFFL more “provincial”

Two new teams enter 2013 NSSAFFL season, illustrates growth of sport in province

With the ushering in of the 2013 Nova Scotia Student Athletic Association Federation Football League (NSSAFFL), the 17 existing teams welcome two brand new teams into the fold.

Sydney Academy Wildcats and West Kings Wolverines are the newest teams on the block.  The Wolverines will begin league play on Sunday September 8th as the team hosts the Lockview Dragons.  Kickoff is 1:00pm.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats will start their inaugural season in Week 2 of the season as the team will travel to take on the JL Ilsley Judges on Sunday September 15th, 2013 at Graves Oakley Field.  Game start is 1:00pm.

For the Wildcats, fielding a high school team in the NSSAFFL has been a product of two years of hard work.

“The formation of high school football started about two years ago, with changes made to Nova Scotia minor football with regards to ages the Cape Breton Regional Minor Football Association deemed the start-up of high school football in the Cape Breton area necessary to maintain growth and development of football in our area,” explained Wildcats Head Coach Lorne Burke.  “We started about a year ago with talks with Sydney Academy and with their approval the school made application to join NSSAFFL and at this spring’s meetings we were accepted as an independent team.”

The reaction of a Sydney based high school team has been extremely positive and also gives added benefits to young players in the Cape Breton region.

“The start-up of High school football has been generating quite a bit of enthusiasm in the school and the community as a whole, our hopes are that we can be competitive this year and in turn grow the interest in our game to help expand to more high school teams in Cape Breton,” commented Burke.  “Being able to provide this level of football in Sydney enable quite a few athletes the ability to continue with playing football, in the past players from Cape Breton would have to leave home if they wanted to continue so we are happy to be able to provide an alternative for these players. “

Ultimately, the addition of new teams such as the Wildcats brings legitimacy that the NSSAFL is a provincial entity and Burke feels that the league will look into further expansion in years to come.

“The inclusion of Sydney Academy this year makes the league a truly provincial league and I would expect a team from the South Shore to be formed within the next few years,” expressed the Wildcats Head Coach.  “This year will be very exciting for the Cape Breton football community.”

The NSSAFFL issued the following statement regarding the addition of new teams to the league.

“The addition of teams is welcomed at any point,” commented League Commissioner Steve Miller.  “The schools have to make the decision based on their own situation.”

“When they feel they can commit to the league they will enter. We are very excited to have new teams enter the league and look forward to more growth in the future.”

Prince Andrew Panthers Head Coach Joe Flemming said that prior to these two teams joining; the league lacked the true essence of the definition of “provincial”.

“Every team added, if they can be competitive, lends to our league truly being provincial,” expressed Flemming.  “With the only teams (John Hugh Gillis being the exception) within an hour or so of Halifax, it really lacks the true meaning of a provincial system.”

“Now, with one end of the province joining the ranks, maybe we’ll see some teams joining at the other end in the Yarmouth area not so many years from now as well. It’s always a step in the right direction when you can expand in a healthy way. It benefits everyone in the league and community.”

However, these additions will provide greater opportunities and open many more doors for players, schools, communities and football organizations on a whole while drawing added interest to the sport.

“Not only does it show an increase in the interest in our sport, but it shows that volunteers and administrators are taking seriously the responsibility of providing all students with as many opportunities as possible, regardless of their geographical area and proximity to the bulk of the other teams,” assessed Flemming.  “Creating a new program is a very challenging thing to do.”

“It takes a lot of work and money to make those types of dreams jump off the drawing board and come to fruition so hats off to the folks who made this happen for the young players in their communities. Football teams can bring communities together, they’re good for local businesses, and it gives people something to watch and get excited about while on a splintery bench, in the freezing cold, wind and rain, in the depths of fall.  No one wants to be cooped up in a cozy house eating warm pumpkin pie and French vanilla ice cream by the fire at that time of year.”

Halifax West Warriors Head Coach Dave Kelly commented that the league is stepping into the positive direction when it comes to expansion and the widespread impact it will have on football in the province. However, Kelly felt that it may be time for the NSSAFFL to review current divisions.

“I think it’s great to see the growth of football in Nova Scotia for the league,” added Kelly.  “I feel we may have to look at having divisions that reflect the different areas that are now in the league.”

“If teams are able to play teams that are closer to them it creates rivalries and helps teams with travel cost.”

One team that is ready dole out the red carpet for the two newest teams on the block are the five time consecutive Nova Division Tier 1 Champions, Citadel Phoenix.

“Citadel is very pleased to welcome the two new teams to the league this fall,” commented Phoenix Co-Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Jeff Lawley.  “We are very happy to see our sport growing.”

 

 

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