There is football currently being played in Canada, even if it’s not the CFL.
Justin Howell launched Formula 11 Football with Nate Behar last year, a high-skill development camp for receivers and defensive backs. The pair were teammates for three seasons with the Carleton Ravens and spent last year together with the Ottawa Redblacks.
“We’ve been around the Ottawa community for so long and we know the talent’s here,” Howell told 3DownNation. “We love having an opportunity to give back to the kids and provide a chance for development and growth.”
The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into this year’s camp. Originally slated for April, the program was delayed due to public health concerns and the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 CFL season. Fortunately, the camp was able to proceed with all-outdoor activities and the implementation of social distancing.
Formula 11 Football runs on Tuesday evenings, Thursday evenings, and Sunday afternoons for a four-week period. There are over thirty participants in this year’s program ranging in age from thirteen to eighteen. A few university players also joined the camp following the cancellation of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) season.
Participants receive 24 hours of on-field instruction over twelve sessions and receive film of their performance in drills. Other staff members include Dominique Davis (quarterback, Ottawa Redblacks), Phil Iloki (receiver, Toronto Argonauts), and Sherrod Baltimore (defensive back, Ottawa Redblacks).
Howell and Behar recently partnered with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) to create post-secondary scholarship opportunities for black and indigenous youth. A portion of camp registration fees goes toward supporting the Formula 11 Bursary Program.
“Our goal is to remove financial barriers for kids who might be facing tough times or come from a rough background,” Howell said. “Regardless of whether or not they’re going to play football at the next level, we want to ease their financial burden and do our part to give back.”
Howell, 23, has played two seasons with the Redblacks since he was a seventh-round pick in the 2018 CFL draft. The native of Bradford, Ont. has recorded 37 tackles and one sack over 27 contests, starting a number of games at safety as a rookie. Though his playing days are far from over, Howell is interested in pursuing coaching in the future.
“It’s something I’ve definitely thought about. Nate (Behar) and I coached with the Junior Ravens program for many years and became better players and coaches because of it,” Howell said. “I would love to do more coaching moving forward because it’s a great way to give back and ensure the success of the next generation of players.”