International players ‘excited to make dreams come true’ in CFL

SURREY, B.C. — A crew of international athletes are looking forward to their first shot at playing in the CFL, but they know they have a lot to learn first.

Defensive lineman Octavio Gonzalez is one of three Mexican players looking to crack the B.C. Lions roster this season, a journey that starts with training camp this week.

“Especially coming from another country, we’re very excited to make the dream come true,” the 27-year-old said Tuesday. “So we’re going to show what we got and work hard for it.”

The Lions picked Gonzalez seventh overall at the CFL’s first-ever draft in Mexico City in January. The club also picked up wide receivers Gerardo Alvarez and Fernando Richarte.

In April, B.C. took France’s Benjamin Plu at the league’s inaugural European player draft.

“I’m so happy to be here and I’m impatient to start the camp,” Plu said. “I trained hard before to come to do this game so I’m impatient right now.”

While France plays a style of football more similar to U.S. college sports than the CFL, the 24-year-old wide receiver got a taste of the Canadian game when he spent a year playing at McGill University in Montreal.

Some of the other international players know they’ve got a lot to learn before stepping into the CFL. Wide receivers in particular play different roles here in Canada, said Alvarez.

But the 30-year-old said he’s up to the challenge.

“Every day it’s good to learn something,” said Alvarez, who was the Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional’s top receiver in 2017.

The biggest difference between football in Canada and Mexico is speed, Gonzalez said.

“It’s faster here. But we’ve been working on that since we know we got drafted for this team. So we’re working hard for us to be at the same level as they play here,” he said.

To prepare, Gonzalez learned how CFL athletes train in various areas, from speed and biometrics to strength and resistance.

“It’s a lot of new things coming on,” he said.

Where the international athletes may fit into the B.C. Lions roster remains to be seen, but head coach DeVone Claybrooks is looking forward to assessing them at training camp in Kamloops, B.C., this week.

“They’re good athletes,” he said. “They can compete at a high level and we’re excited to see how they fit in. They all performed well and were admirable at the combine and those types of things so we’re excited to see what they bring to the table.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment minister reconsidering decision to stay out of Alberta coal-mine review

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is reconsidering a decision in December… Continue reading

Experts say Twitter breach troubling, undermines trust

HONG KONG — A breach in Twitter’s security that allowed hackers to… Continue reading

Walmart latest retailer to require customers to wear masks

NEW YORK — Walmart will require customers to wear face coverings at… Continue reading

Commons finance committee to begin probing WE Charity’s volunteering contract

OTTAWA — The first of multiple parliamentary investigations of the federal government’s… Continue reading

Active number of COVID cases rises to 61 in central zone

Cases increased by 13 over the past 24 hours

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Opinion: Worst of COVID has passed, but it’s not business as usual

We are entering the euphoria stage of the pandemic economy — surging… Continue reading

Opinion: Teachers have advice on how to safety reopen schools

With Canada Day well behind us, summer is officially underway. But even… Continue reading

Winger Liam Kay, the Wolfpack’s first-ever player signing, leaves for Wakefield

Winger Liam Kay, the Toronto Wolfpack’s leading try-scorer and first-ever signing, has… Continue reading

Canada’s Jordan Mein returns to action with Bellator later this month

LOS ANGELES — Canadian welterweight Jordan (Young Gun) Mein will make his… Continue reading

Megan Thee Stallion says she was shot, expects to recover

LOS ANGELES — Rapper Megan Thee Stallion said Wednesday that she was… Continue reading

Colville painting shatters sales record at auctions with strong bidding results

TORONTO — A painting by Alex Colville shattered a price record for… Continue reading

Bank of Canada holds rate, forecasts decline in GDP of 7.8% this year

OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada will keep its key interest rate… Continue reading

Alberta escalates pay fight with doctors, asks regulatory college to intervene

EDMONTON — Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro is escalating his pay dispute… Continue reading

Most Read