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Central Alberta Fire to field two teams this summer

They’ll host a jamboree next weekend
The Central Alberta Fire nearly completed an undefeated season in their inaugural year last season in the U18 Female Football League but lost in the gold medal match to Calgary. (Photo submitted by Martin Rheaume/ Central Alberta Fire)

The Central Alberta Fire, the region’s only U18 all-female football team, is returning for its second season this summer.

Only this time they’ll field two teams after an influx in registration since last year.

In 2023 they had 15 athletes playing for them which has grown to 33 heading into the 2024 U18 Female Football League campaign. They now have enough players to host a U16 and a U19 team.

Red Deer Minor Football president Greg Thompson said word of mouth and the team’s success last year helped recruit more players.

“It’s awesome just to see the double growth that we’ve had since last year. We couldn’t be more excited,” he said.

“I know Calgary and some of those teams down south are pretty envious of us right because we were able to double as fast as we did. Some of those teams are struggling to fill spots.”

Thompson admitted they started the recruitment process and got the word out earlier this year which has helped attract more players. It has also helped increase interest.

“We’re still getting calls every day from girls interested and wanting to come to check it out,” he said adding those interested are welcome to join.

The Fire has players from central Alberta communities such as Sylvan Lake, Stettler, Innisfail, Springbrook, Lacombe, and Red Deer.

This season they’ll play their regular season games against teams in the southern division and then for the first time, there will be a provincial final where the south will take on the north teams in mid-June.

They will host their first league game in Lacombe on Saturday, April 14 vs. Airdrie at 5 p.m. Dallas Haldorson will coach the U16 team and Martin Rheaume will lead the U19 squad.

Thompson said RDMF felt for development’s sake it was better to split the players into two age categories and a few other teams in the league did the same.

The Foothills Eagles, Calgary Wildcats, SAMFA Valkyries (St. Albert), Wetaskiwin, and Leduc are all U16 teams. The U19 teams that are set to play include the Foothills, Calgary, St. Albert, Wetaskiwin, Lethbridge, Airdrie, Stony Plain, and West Edmonton.

On Saturday, April 6 the Fire will host their second annual football jamboree at The Dome in Red Deer.

They’ll have games that will run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and will have teams attending from Lethbridge, Okotoks, Calgary, Airdrie, Edmonton, Wetaskiwin, St Albert, and Fort McKay.

“There will be games pretty much on all day… We’ve got just over 300 girls and coaches that will be there.”

Last year the Fire fell short of their goal to win the league title losing in the gold medal game in Calgary but was overall a successful season.

Thompson said they look forward to building off that this year.

“I think we probably surprised a few teams in the first year with the quality of girls we had in the area… I think this year we’ll be more on their radar that we’ll be pretty good.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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