By Ottawa Sportspage, For Louis-Riel Rebelles
Louis-Riel high school and the Cumberland Panthers football club are joining forces to offer the first program of its kind in Ottawa, featuring year-round football skills development training integrated alongside scholastic studies.
While high school and community club football have historically conflicted with one another, the allegiance between the innovative organizations flips that clash on its head.
There won’t be a tackle football team at Louis-Riel – no contact, no helmet, no shoulder pads during on-field sessions either – to ensure a focus squarely on out-of-competition preparation.
“The kids will have the chance to work on their football skills during the offseason, so that when it starts, they’ll be sharp and it’s like they never stopped playing,” explains Jean-Charles Plante, Louis-Riel’s head of football operations. “It’s all about allowing the kids to play and learn as much as they can. We just want to promote football and fuel the passion for the kids.”
Plante, a former Carleton Raven and Mount Allison team captain/dean’s list student-athlete, is one of the many coaches from the Panthers who will work regularly with the Louis-Riel players. Ottawa Sooners CJFL head coach Wayne Jacobs, who owns 20+ years of coaching experience across all levels, is the lead program director. University coaches will also visit regularly.
“We’re really excited to launch this initiative,” says Louis-Riel Sports-Study program coordinator Ken Levesque. “We felt that year-round training in one place has been lacking in local football, and the Cumberland Panthers are such a renowned organization with top-quality coaches, so we’re really enthusiastic about this forward-thinking partnership.”
Louis-Riel football is open to all – skill level or position doesn’t matter, the program seeks to draw players who want to get better. The Cumberland Panthers will provide coaching, but players from any NCAFA territory or beyond are welcome to train in the school’s program.
Female players can train to compete for Louis-Riel’s school touch football team, to play in the region’s first all-girls tackle football league (run by Cumberland), or for their NCAFA squad.
Grade 7 and 8 students will have morning sessions, while Grade 9-12s have a football class every day during school – either on-field, or training for strength, speed, agility and nutrition.
“I think this is really going to elevate the level of football in Ottawa,” highlights Plante. “At Cumberland, we’re always big on promoting the educational opportunities that are possible through football, so it’s a great fit to work with such a strong academic and sports school like Louis-Riel.
“It’s great for the game, it’s great for the city, great for the school, great for our program, and it’s great for the players.”
Louis-Riel football kicks off in September 2020.