There will be some new electricity in the air this year when the Transcona Nationals take the field.
The club will be able to play and practise under a new set of lights thanks to a grant of more than $100,000 from the federal government announced last week.
Club president Steve Hoel said the Nationals — led by past-president Cory Knapp — have been trying to get their facility lit for four or five years.
"We’ve been trying to rebuild the club to be the best in the city," said the Transcona resident, who’s been involved with the club for 15 years as a coach and volunteer. "We’re one of the big three clubs with the North Winnipeg Nomads and the St. Vital Mustangs and now all three have lights."
Elmwood-Transcona MP Lawrence Toet announced the grant, which comes from the federal government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund.
"Athletic facilities like this are the foundation of our community," Toet said. "They bring families and residents together in a way that’s very unique."
The Nationals’ clubhouse will also receive some exterior renovations and new windows. But the main thing for Hoel — who has had the difficult task of producing practice schedules that give all teams a chance to run some drills before dark — is the lights.
"In fall practices, we’re sometimes juggling around six or seven teams on one field," he said. "Now we can schedule teams later. Older teams can practise from 8:00 to 10:00, which will give us more time."
The new lighting will also potentially be a revenue generator for the club. The Manitoba Minor Football Association and Midget Football League of Manitoba can now play night games, and the field can also be rented for high school games, and the provincial team program.
"We’ll probably do a little bit of that this year and see how it goes," Hoel said.
The club has been a part of the Transcona landscape since 1957, and in recent years has seen many of its players go on to star at the high school level with the Murdoch MacKay Clansmen.
"Football is huge in Transcona," said Hoel, who is working with the midget team’s offensive line this season. "It’s growing non-stop. Having a better facility will be a vast improvement for our players."
Also benefiting from the building upgrades will be the Canterbury Park Day Care, which operates in the clubhouse.