It's going to be a big weekend for some of the top youth football players from across British Columbia as they gear up to take on teams from Alberta in the sixth annual ABC Border Bowl tournament in Kelowna.
The event, created by scout Ron Dias, aims to identify top athletes from even the most rural areas in hopes of offering post-secondary opportunities.
This year, the teams include more players from the Central Okanagan than ever before including athletes from Mount Boucherie Bears, Rutland Secondary Voodoos, Okanagan Mission Huskies, Kelowna Secondary Owls and the Kelowna Minor Football Association.
"It's pretty fun," says Caeleb Schlachter, a 16-year-old KSS wide receiver who will be playing on the BC Rising Stars. "On my team, we have guys from Rutland and Boucherie. We actually get to be teammates and work together to represent B.C."
The draft process for the teams is a significant undertaking for ABC Border Bowls organizers. In B.C. alone, they hit the road to host tryouts at Vancouver Island, Greater Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kamloops and Prince George. Players must demonstrate skill in a combine (40-yard dash), drills and scrimmage.
Players are also assessed based on attitude and confidence in communication. This allows the draft committee to determine if a player can get through the gruelling two-day insertion camp (held in May in Abbotsford) and effectively learn and absorb the plays.
With hundreds of players trying out every year, athletes must bring their best, organizers said. In the end, the final rosters are indeed comprised of athletes coming from all corners of the province.
"Part of what we're trying to do here is to give these young men an experience that allows them to learn more about themselves, and ultimately, who they want to be, both on the field and off," said Chel Sanghera, the senior event coordinator for the tournament.
"Mama Chel" is past-president of both the Abbotsford Falcons and Valley Community Football League and a BC Football Association executive.
"We also want this to be part of their story, an experience they can look back on with pride and a memory that will always put a smile on their face."
All games take place this Saturday at Mission Sports Field Turf, behind the CNC.
Games begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 5:30 p.m.
Games will also be streamed live on VBN Sports YouTube Channel.