Indoor winter football camps will begin today (Jan. 23), and continue Jan. 30, Feb. 6 and Feb. 13 on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. to give players an introduction to the bantam game.
“The whole point is to get the kids out that have played before, make sure they’re doing what they should in the offseason to get ready for August and hopefully get some newcomers out,” said Rebels head coach Garrett Simmons.
“We’re really hoping to see some new faces and boost our numbers.”
The camp is for players currently in Grade 7 and Grade 8, and is open to anyone in the team’s drawing area, which includes, Taber, Barnwell, Vauxhall and various other areas in southern Alberta.
“We’ve had players from Hays and Enchant, Grassy Lake and a few from down in the Milk River/Warner area over the years,” said Simmons.
“It would be nice to get some representation from those communities every year to help the sports really grow in the area.”
Last year drove home the importance of having strong numbers at the bantam level, as the team was decimated with injuries throughout the year.
“It was the only time in all of my years of coaching when I didn’t have at least 30 players. We were in the low 20s and when the injuries started to accumulate, we had a difficult time fielding a roster for some games.”
Winter camps are a way for second-year players to keep their skills sharp and for the rookies coming into bantam to get acclimatized to what is expected from them at the bantam level.
“It’s a step up from peewee,” said Simmons.
“The move to real games, with referees, special teams and the full field does make a big difference. We’re just trying to ensure we are as prepared as possible.”
Part of that process begins with getting new players up to speed as soon as possible.
“We want to expose kids to the sport and get them in the gym to see if it’s something they could enjoy,” said Simmons.
“Part of it is teaching them the skills they’re going to need to succeed in late-August when we start for real and to give them a quick head start before spring camp.”
The camp will begin each night at 7 p.m. inside the auditorium at the Taber Community Centre. It is free of charge.
For more information, call Simmons at 403-382-0681.