Jeff Fraser looks at his 14-year-old son, Kyle, and sees an example of how minor football can create opportunities for kids of all shapes and sizes.
“Kyle is probably one of the smallest players on the Nova Scotia provincial team but he’s got a position that he’s built for,” said Fraser, one of two head coaches for Windsor Warlords tackle football.
“The big misconception is you have to be a hulk (but), like anything else, a lot of it has to do with heart.”
Kyle, a first-year defensive safety on the Under 16 provincial team, started playing football for an Under 13 team when he was nine. The Falmouth resident says he loved the sport the first time he took to the field, and he “definitely” intends to play in the National Football League (NFL).
When Kyle was cut from the 2010 provincial roster at the final tryout, he vowed next season would be different.
“I bulked up and I’ve been more determined. I’m not afraid to hit as much as I was last year,” said Kyle, adding that he has strict nutritional and fitness regimes to follow.
“I’ve been told no one else can read the play (like) I (can) as safety. I drop back in the zone and make sure nothing gets by me.”
Kyle’s father says this is quite a feat considering the competition.
“Kyle is 5’3, 116 pounds and he’s tackling kids… over six feet, 250 plus pounds.”
In 2010, Kyle beat out close to 80 players to earn a running back MVP award at an Atlantic region football camp hosted at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. Of the six awards presented at the camp, Fraser says, five were won by Windsor Warlords.
This year, Kyle, who will travel to Manitoba for a week-long U16 Red River Cup tournament in July, has been asked to participate in an invite-only training camp at Acadia University that, his father says, may be a game changer.
“NFL position coaches come and teach you about technique and how to prepare yourself for playing at a higher level,” Fraser said.
“A number of people that have gone to the football camp now play in the NFL.”
Fraser says playing football teaches kids about sportsmanship, respect, co-operation and the value of hard work.
“People generally feel that football is an extremely brutal game, and it really isn’t,” said Fraser, noting that the coaches train players how to tackle properly and protect themselves from harm.
“Unlike hockey, there is absolutely zero tolerance for fighting.”
Fraser and fellow coach, Albert Bahri, are looking to recruit at least 16 to 32 players, between the ages of eight and 14, to fill the co-ed atom, peewee and bantam Windsor Warlords football teams this season.
Registration will be held June 11, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Hantsport soccer field. The cost is $220 per season which, Fraser says, covers the cost of gear with the exception of cleats.
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