Football has rich history in Richmond

Raiders getting ready for upcoming fall season with teams entered in all divisions

Raiders Minor Football is alive and well in Richmond even if few audibles have been required along the way.
The sport has a rich history in this city — dating back to the classic Richmond Colts/Steveston Packers high school rivalry, the powerhouse Raiders Junior Football team and a community program that regularly contended for provincial titles.
Today, the numbers are far from what they used to be and Hugh Boyd Secondary is the only destination to play high school ball. Yet, that doesn’t mean the gridiron game is about to fall completely off the city’s sporting landscape.
For the first time in recent memory, Richmond Minor Football will be entering the upcoming Vancouver Mainland Football League (VMFL) season with teams in every age group.
A working partnership is also in place with Hugh Boyd that sees the two programs promoting each other and sharing coaching resources.
New for 2016, the Raiders will also be offering additional Saturday development sessions Atom and Pee Wee players, on top of their regular practice and game schedule. It reflects the enthusiasm of Richmond Minor president Rob Parmar. He is already member of the Bantam Raiders coaching staff but scheduled the sessions for Saturdays so he and other experienced coaches can be involved.
“We are just trying to figure out different ways to get the football numbers to grow again,” said Parmar. “Typically at those age levels, the dads come out to coach but you need your best coaches at the youngest age levels, especially with parents asking questions about safety.
“What I would really like to see one day is us go out and market (the game) to elementary schools for a full year and then start up our own Richmond Atom (ages 8-9) league and run it the way we want to run it. Say a four team league with 15 kids on each and they play for the Richmond Cup. It would all be about preparing kids for the next level.”
Parmar added Richmond Minor Football has greatly benefitted from the VMFL adding nine man divisions in Bantam and Midget, as an option to the traditional 12 aside, for associations with lower registration numbers. This is even attracting multi-sport athletes at the Midget level, designed for 16-to-18-year-olds who want to play football for the first time.
“We have to make sure there is a team here in Richmond for those kids that don’t want to attend Hugh Boyd but still want to play,” added Parmar. “A lot of the kids come in with little experience but have a blast playing the nine man game.”
The association also has a potential player base to draw from with its popular spring flag program that featured 11 teams this past season. Those numbers suggest interest in the sport but perhaps reluctance to play the tackle version of the game.
That’s why Richmond Minor Football’s number one priority is player’s safety and teaching proper tackling and even falling techniques. It is the main focus of twice weekly sessions currently being held at Minoru Park, leading up to the fall season.
“We are here for the safety of the kids and making sure they are having fun,” added Parmar.
Richmond Minor Football offers teams in six age categories. Registration for the 2016 season is still open.
Visit raidersfootball.ca for more information.

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