B.C. Lions launch new Indigenous youth program to teach kids football and life skills

Photo courtesy: Corrine Hunt/B.C. Lions.

The B.C. Lions have launched the B.C. Lions Indigenous Youth Program as part of their commitment to the Orange Shirt initiative and building relationships with Indigenous communities.

“Sport has the power to transform individuals in so many positive ways,” said Jamie Taras, B.C.’s director of community partnerships, in a statement. “We are very much looking forward to connecting with these youth and sharing our passion for the game of football. I know our players will benefit from these relationships as much as the participants will.”

The five-week program will allow participants from across the lower mainland to learn the skills and fundamentals of flag football with coaching from current Lions players. Program participants will also learn the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership through sport and the game of football.

Following three weeks of practices and coaching at various locations, the program culminates with a tournament and barbeque at the club’s Surrey practice facility followed by a workshop with various life skill activities in Vancouver. During the 2022 season, all participants alongside their family and friends will be treated to a VIP experience at a Lions game.

Player coaches involved in the program include quarterbacks Nathan Rourke and Michael O’Connor, receiver Jacob Scarfone, offensive linemen Sukh Chungh, Peter Godber, David Knevel, Andrew Peirson, Joel Figueroa, and Matt Guevremont, and linebackers Bo Lokombo, Isaiah Guzylak-Messam, and Ben Hladik.

“At Prospera, we’re passionate about supporting all members of our local communities. This includes building stronger, lasting relationships with Indigenous communities,” said TJ Schmaltz, the chief people and legal officer and president of the Prospera Foundation, a sponsor of the program.

“The B.C. Lions Indigenous Youth Program will not only connect Indigenous youth on the field, but it will also enable them to build teamwork and leadership skills they can use and benefit off the field. Prospera is honoured to be a part of helping develop these important life skills in our partnership with the B.C. Lions.”

“We are grateful for the continued partnership with the B.C. Lions in supporting the health and well-being of Indigenous youth,” said Rick Brant of the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council, a partner of the program.

“The training and skill development provided through the B.C. Lions Indigenous Youth Program will have a positive and lasting impact on the lives of Indigenous athletes, both on and off the field.”