Thursday, Apr 14, 2016 10:43 am By: Andrew Halipchuk
The Airdrie Irish men’s football team is looking for players interested in tossing on the equipment and hitting the gridiron for the 2016 Alberta Football League (AFL) season.
As the Irish prepare for its second season in the AFL, the team is looking to continue to build a culture and dynamic for the future.
“Coming off of our first year, obviously there were a lot of growing pains,” said Irish player and Director of Sponsorships Matthew Huntley. “This year we’re hoping to build a better foundation.
“The foundation of what the team hopes to accomplish in the future. A culture and standard of how we want to hold ourselves as opposed to how other teams in the league do.”
Being situated in a city so close to Calgary – which has two AFL teams – the Irish has been forced to battle to bring players to Airdrie. The Calgary Wolfpack has had a dedicated group of players for years, while the Calgary Gators recent dominance has made it an appealing choice for young AFL players.
“With the Wolfpack having such a long legacy and the Gators being provincial champions two of the past three years, they get bodies,” Huntley said. “They have a good solid foundation and have been around for a while.”
The strong competition means the Irish need to start building up its own dedicated base. The Irish play once a week in the summer, playing across Alberta and keeping players young and old attached to the sport they grew up loving.
According to Huntley, the Irish have a coaching staff with a plan in place ready for the upcoming season.
“Our coaching staff is fantastic and really run the program like a junior or Canadian Inter-university Sports program,” Huntley said. “They hold us accountable and no one is above the team in any way.
“They have a good outline of what they want to do through the season.
Registration is now open for the Irish. Potential players can contact the team via two Facebook pages, The Blarney Stone and the Airdrie Irish Football Recruitment and Social Page.
Registration costs are $450, covering travel expenses, insurance, as well as costs to help run the team. Players are required to provide their own equipment, but helmets will be painted by the team and jerseys and pants will be provided.
The team is also seeking sponsors for the upcoming season. Players who sign up sponsors for the Irish will see reduced registration costs.
The first official training tryout camp for the Irish is scheduled April 30 and May 1. The first team meeting is scheduled April 29 at Genesis Place Recreation Centre. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit airdrieirish.com