The Red River Cup is ongoing in Winnipeg and that means a number of local football players are suiting up for some football action.
Nine players among the 40 players selected to make-up two Saskatchewan teams for the Red River Cup are from Yorkton.
The nine players are; offensive line Alyssa Sander, Shay-Lynn Pelletier, and Katelynne Hoffman, Austen Dubreuil, quarterback, Brooke Hannotte, running back, Camryn Dubreuil and Katelyn Dixon-Appelton on the defensive line Caelan MacLean, linebacker, and Makayla Pelletier, defensive back, and their coaches will need to adapt on the run.
Local coaches involved include Chris Sander, Daryl Zimmer, Jeff Hannotte, and Tyrell MacLean.
The teams are playing a series of ‘mini-games’ concluding today, with the results setting the seeding for the gold and bronze medal games scheduled for July 17.
Coach MacLean said the event is definitely a step up in terms of overall talent on the field.
“The competition is better. We picked the top-40 players at our camp, and they (Manitoba) picking their top-40, so there’s better players here definitely,” he said.
But, beyond the jump in skill level, the biggest difference is playing six-aside football.
“I think that’s our biggest adjustment,” said MacLean. “None of the girls have played that. None of the coaches have coached that.”
MacLean said while team ‘white’ had a few jitters in their first game, both they and team ‘green’ have settled in and are playing well in the tournament for U18 players.
As it stood Monday morning, MacLean was confident a Saskatchewan team would be in the final Wednesday.
“One of our teams is going to be there I’m sure. I’m very confident in that, unless the wheels really fall off today,” he said in a telephone interview from Winnipeg.
While there are medals to be won, there is more to the tournament than winning. MacLean said players are developing bonds and making memories that will last. He said he can see players from different towns starting to make friendships.
“I think that’s important,” he said.
And there has been time for some fun too. Both Saskatchewan teams and their Manitoba counterparts attended the Winnipeg Blue Bombers game Friday, getting to scrimmage on the field in front of the Canadian Football League crowd.
“Even for myself and the other coaches it was a little exciting and I was a little bit nervous about it,” said MacLean.
The local girls made the Saskatchewan teams at a camp in Melville, where the majority of the players were from the region, Melville, Moosomin and Yorkton, but players from Regina, Saskatoon and Tisdale were also selected, said MacLean.