Esks help grow Camrose football
Edmonton Eskimos D’Anthony Baptiste, middle, and Chris Getzlaf talk with a Camrose Buffaloes coach during Minor Football Day at Harry Andreassen Field in Camrose on Sunday. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
Camrose was invaded by the Eskimos Empire during the Camrose Buffaloes Football Association Minor Football Day.
The Edmonton Eskimos sent wide receiver Chris Getzlaf and offensive lineman D’Anthony Batiste along with cheerleaders to the kickoff party for the start of the minor football season in the Rose City on Sunday. They talked with players and coaches and signed autographs for fans. For the Canadian Football Club, it was an opportunity to get back to the grass roots and help grow the game.
“Football is a great sport, it’s a great activity, it’s a great team sport, it’s a great opportunity for kids to bond and have a lot of life experiences together,” said Batiste. “Football’s a very tough sport and it’s a very rewarding sport as well. Coming out here and having a chance to spend some time with these kids and hopefully to help the have a better turnout and get more kids active — not just in football, but sports in general — that way they can always have a positive outlet and keep the kids active and onside and outdoors.”
The day also featured four games in Camrose. The Fort Saskatchewan Falcons won the peewee game 24-20 and the bantam game 32-0, while Camrose took on Wetaskwin in two novice flag football games. The Camrose atoms also played in Edmonton, beating the Seahawks 5-0.
Batiste, 35, said this is an opportunity that he would have relished as a youngster, growing up in Marksville, La., where as close as he got to the pro game was watching Louisiana State University every Saturday afternoon.
He said the young Buffaloes he was working with bought right in.
“We had their attention from the get-go,” said Batiste. “The kids were so in tune with everything we had to say, they were just fixated on us the whole time. It seemed like any little bit of advice that they could get from us they were yearning and wanted it.”
This was the first time the Buffaloes had brought out the Eskimos. Buffaloes president Kim Kienitz said it is important for local players to have access to these pros who play just up the road. In particular, someone like a Getzlaf, who grew up in Regina and became one of the top receivers in the Canadian game, regardless of nationality.
“Lots of these kids know who Chris Getzlaf is specifically, he’s a great role model. When they did their post-game talk with the kids, just the words to the kids about making life-long friendships and all of those things that we try to teach our players all the time is what they reinforced,” said Kienitz. “It was awesome to hear.”
The Camrose Buffaloes Football Association is in its 15th year of operation and this year have 97 players registered, including the new flag football division.
They host more games this Saturday with the peewees playing at 10 a.m. and the bantams at 12:30 p.m. at Harry Andreassen Field.