The Churchill High School Bulldogs football team will be travelling on a whirlwind trip to the Big Apple to tour the city and play our southern neighbours.
Head coach Tom Wall, originally from Delaware, coached a football team in Vestal, N.Y. before moving to Winnipeg to be closer to his Canadian wife’s family. He got the idea for a cross-border game from a debate club he coached.
"When I left, all of the kids asked if I’d be starting a club up in Canada and if I would bring them back to compete," said Walls. "Well, I didn’t end up coaching the debate club (in Canada), I got back into coaching football, and if the idea was going to work for six really smart kids then I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for 36 really tough kids."
The team will leave for New York City early on Wed., Aug. 28, and return Sept. 1. On the short trip, the team will tour Manhattan, see a pre-season NFL game, and travel to Vestal, N.Y. where they will practice and scrimmage with the local team.
"I would hope they, with the practice with the other team, really see how Americans take the game quite seriously and practice very efficiently," said Yussef Hawash, assistant coach of the Bulldogs. "The speed of the game may be faster than what we play, so that will be good for them to see that."
Walls thinks his team will get caught up in the moment, but hopes they realize the opportunity they are getting.
"What I really think they’ll walk away with is that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only represent their school and province, they’ll be representing Canada," said Walls.
To prepare for the trip the team has been fundraising by selling tickets to different events, selling cookies, and even doing a test-drive event.
"There’s been a lot of fundraising and we’ve had a tremendous group of parents that have helped out," said Walls. "Two of my coaches in particular have gone above and beyond in terms of finding funds for our boys — Tyler Parks and Yussef Hawash."
Cullen Nield, 17, an offensive/defensive lineman entering Grade 12, is excited to fly out but knows his team will probably have to stay focused to compete with the Americans.
"We’ll have to play harder because they do take it a lot more serious in the States," said Nield. "We’ll have to put forward some more competition and just play harder."