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Football on P.E.I. would benefit from Halifax CFL team: Hurricanes coach

Anthony LeBlanc, centre, is shown with Maritime Football Ltd. partner Bruce Bowser, left, and CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie during a town hall event in Halifax on Feb. 23. Maritime Football wants to bring a CFL team to Halifax.
Anthony LeBlanc, centre, is shown with Maritime Football Ltd. partner Bruce Bowser, left, and CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie during a town hall event in Halifax on Feb. 23. Maritime Football wants to bring a CFL team to Halifax.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The head coach of the Holland College Hurricanes says a pro football team in Halifax would do wonders for the game’s development in P.E.I.

Ross Young was reacting to recent news of a season ticket drive to gauge interest in a Canadian Football League franchise in Halifax.

Efforts have been made in the past to secure a team for the Maritimes, but Young said he thinks there’s a real chance this time.

“It comes at a great time. I’d like to think there seems to be a lot more momentum right now and the CFL seems to be very serious about considering this.”

Some members of the Hurricanes went to Halifax last spring to support the bid during a meeting with the CFL commissioner, Young said.

Having a team in Halifax would boost interest in football at all levels and provide a better opportunity for local players to jump to the pros, the bench boss said.

“It inspires the college and university athletes to be better and it inspires the little ones because it’s a trickle-down effect. I think it (would be) awesome.”

The impact would especially be felt at the grassroots level, Young said, where kids get a big charge out of spending time with Holland College players.

“The minor (football) kids are so excited to be with the Hurricanes. So, if you take that to the next level with CFL players, that’s incredible.”

One advantage would be having scouting combines closer to home, he said. Local players have to go to Montreal or Toronto to showcase their game now.

“It’s about time we started hosting them on the East Coast.”

CFL teams also have outreach programs that would benefit local communities beyond the football field, Young said.

“They help kids that don’t have a lot, and these players identify with those type of kids.

“The more football we have in the region and at the highest level, it benefits everybody – and not just from a sport perspective, but a community perspective.”

Whether the CFL will expand to 10 teams will come down to money and politics, Young said.

“It’s all about financing and the long-term viability of it. … I know politicians tend to be a little concerned about having to use government funds to support something that should be corporate-driven, so there’s always that balance.”

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