Vanderhoof’s eight and nine-year-old football zone champions will be fighting for the provincial title in Kamloops on Nov. 21.
The 15-strong Atom Viking Football team of Vanderhoof had won all three of their matches at the zone playoffs on Oct. 24, defeating players from Prince George and Quesnel.
Coach Phil Turgeon said it has been an interesting season for the team, as it lost all three games in tight scores before the playoffs.
There were no points from either side until the very end, when the opposing team would score in the last few minutes, he added.
“There were lots of improvement as the season went along,” Turgeon said.
For Jared Wiebe, in his second football season and had won the Most Improvement Award this year, the approaching provincial tournament is slightly scary.
“‘Cause they’re really good,” Jared said.
Sporting a BC Lions jersey of Creighton O’Malley, an alumni of the provincial football team, during practice on Nov. 12, the nine-year-old is also known as O’Malley in the family, said his mother Natasha Wiebe.
Jared’s older brother Orin plays in the Junior Bantam Football team and had participated in provincials last year — Jared had grown up watching his brother and his friends play the sport, Wiebe said.
She added, “The camaraderie in football far surpasses other sports I’ve seen.”
For Jay Irvine, who had tried other sports, he is excited to play football again next season while he wouldn’t continue soccer, his mother Lisa said.
“I would get in trouble for missing a practice or game.”
For Ashlee McKee, her son Kolton is the oldest in the family, playing football with his younger brothers all the time.
“They’re pretty much ready to go when they join next year.”
For Austin Reimer, football was not the family’s first choice, said his mother Kristina.
“Austin wanted to play football so so bad and I kept saying no but then I finally gave in and said yes,” she said. “He was so excited; he dedicated himself and tried really hard all season.”
She added, “I don’t think he will miss another season now that we know what a fun sport it is and how much Austin enjoys it.”
For Naiya MacGillivray, the sole female participating in the team this year, the sport is very exciting.
Her favourite part is the running, tackling, pushing, and jumping that football entails, she said.
It’s MacGillvray’s first sport, though her parents both love football, her mother Stephanie said.
“It’s something we all enjoy, and she got the muscle to it,” Stephanie said, adding that on every game day she would go to her five-year-old sister and asked what day is it.
“Aurora would say,’It’s football!’”