Attention local youth football players with big hearts and slow feet, Kito Poblah has a deal for you.
Give the Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver eight weeks and he'll show you why his "Hard Work Beats Talent" slogan is true.
Poblah is running his Finish First Football training program for the second straight year for youth and high school players. Beginning Friday at the University of Manitoba's indoor soccer complex, the 22-session program focuses on improving a young player's speed and agility.
"What we put on our bodies in the weight room is like our armour. So if you're not used to wearing your armour in battle, you're going to be a lot slower," Poblah said. "Our program allows kids to not be like Robocop, but be very athletic. Put what they've achieved in the weight room onto the actual playing field and learn how to move efficiently on the field."
The young players train alongside Poblah, Bombers running back Carl Volny and linebacker Marcellus Bowman three times a week with a focus on learning to improve their speed and agility.
Poblah, who was born in Montreal but played his youth and university football in the United States, said he has noticed most Canadian kids need to fire up their foot speed.
"The Canadian paradigm (in football) has been more of a power and weightlifting type of thing, especially because with how cold it is in the winter, it's tough to get outside and run," Poblah said. "But if you want to get faster, you have to be able to move and that's our competitive advantage... We're implementing something from the American football system that is actually proven to work."
Griffin Shillingford, a Grade 11 slotback from the Winnipeg High School Football League's Vidruk Division champion Kelvin Clippers, is coming back to the camp for a second year.
"When I see Kito playing in the CFL and doing what he loves to do, he's a motivating guy because he's had to work really hard to get where he is and that's what I want to do," said the 5-11, 150-pound Shillingford, 16. He ended the 2012 season as his team's third-leading receiver. "He taught me how to move my body differently so my speed improved so much, my footwork and I can even jump higher. I've been able to work my way up to a contributing member of my team."
Kellen Poole, a Grade 11 slotback with the Vincent Massey Trojans who is also coming back to the camp for a second year, said he improved his time in the 40-yard dash to 4.7 seconds from 5.2.
"When Kito says hard work beats talent, he really describes what most of us are trying to do. Maybe you're not the best player on the team but with hard work you can get where you want to go," said the 17-year-old Poole.
For more information, go to www.finishfirstfootball.com.