Middle schools pick up football

For every problem, there’s a solution. That’s the process teachers follow, and all good coaches, too.
For New Westminster Hyacks football skipper Farhan Lalji, it wasn’t so much a problem to address as it was an area that could be bolstered.
While the Royal City minor football program has been churning out some awesome young talent for the high school junior and senior program the last few years, the current Grade 7 and 8 age group appeared a bit weak in the numbers area.
So Lalji looked around and found a solution – with the help of the district’s middle schools and teacher sponsors.
By creating a team each for Fraser River, Glenbrook and Queensborough middle schools for a short spring league operated by the North Shore, Lalji is seeing a wave of newcomers who could benefit the high school program in the process.
“We have 75 kids involved from the three (school) teams, and if more than half continue we’d be ecstatic,” said Lalji. “The beautiful thing about football is it’s the best late-entry sport. ... You can get kids started in Grade 7, 8 who learn the fundamentals and go on to play varsity.
“You just can’t start hockey in Grade 7, Ed Jovanovski excluded, and go on to play at the highest level.”
He pointed to NCAA Div. 1 players Matt Seymour, at Ohio, and Harper Sherman, at Arizona, as New West products who discovered the game at the middle school age.
Support from the schools’ principals and staff sponsors has been fantastic, said Lalji, and it’s made the spring venture with the four North Shore teams and Vancouver’s Eric Hamber a win-win for participants.
As part of the league, New West is hosting a season-opening four-team jamboree on Friday at Mercer Stadium

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