CFLPA, Football Canada launch grassroots ‘First Down’ initiative to introduce kids to the sport

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

Football Canada and the Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA) have struck a partnership to launch ‘First Down,’ a new program designed to foster football development and growth in Canada over the next three years.

“The game of football has been life-changing for most CFLPA members, including myself, because it develops not only athletic skill but also character, fosters teamwork, and forges
long-lasting relationships. This is an exciting opportunity to partner with Football Canada as we work together over the coming years to grow the game and get more youth in Canada learning and playing football,” said CFLPA president Solomon Elimimian in a statement.

The CFLPA and Football Canada will conduct free one-day First Down sessions for kids age four to eight during Football Weekend in Canada from September 16-18. Dates, times, and locations will be announced next month.

No previous football experience is required for kids to participate as the program was developed as a non-contact introduction to the basics of the sport.

“It’s our goal to get a record number of kids exposed to the sport for the first time during Football Weekend in Canada,” said Football Canada president Jim Mullin. “I can’t think of a better way for our sport to be introduced to kids and their families than with a CFLPA Ambassador participating in the instruction of the First Down program.”

In addition to this first initiative, the CFLPA and Football Canada have committed to partnering on programming for coaching certification for current CFLPA members, sport-wide safety initiatives, and promoting the sport through Football Canada events to grow the game. The details of this partnership will be revealed in the coming months.

“Throughout our discussions with Football Canada over the last two years, we have found that we share much in common. Both organizations share a passion for the game and are focused on growing football while centering on the athletes’ well-being. We know we can do a lot more by working together,” said CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay.