To wrap up the first post-COVID-19 season, the IBSA Football Festival on June 18 in Irrican will bring together kids ages 5 to 9.
The 2022 football season is drawing to a close for both Irricana and Beiseker, but they have one more event to look forward to this weekend.
Children from U5 to U9 will kick the ball around the field during the last football festival in Irrican on June 18th.
“It’s more for kids to get outside and connect with other kids, burn off some energy – and hopefully learn a little bit about respect and teamwork,” said Carly Green of the Irrican Beiseker Football Association (IBSA). “I think it’s very important, especially in a small town like this where [limited] sports and not many events going on.”
The festival will bring together different associations for 14 games in one day; four for U5, four for U7 and six more games for U9.
“There is no actual scorekeeping at the festival, but we have referees and everything we need to make sure we play according to football rules,” she said. “Every kid likes to win something, whether it’s a festival or a real tournament.”
Green said the IBSA had received feedback from other associations asking for a festival rather than a tournament so no one would lose.
Green added that with bands under U9 it’s not a bad idea. She felt that if the children played and interacted with each other, it might make them more interested in returning to the field next year.
“All the kids will get medals, we have a food stall where you can buy food and drinks and it’s just a good way to get outside again and get the kids excited about playing football,” Greene said.
Medals will also be awarded to coaches. According to her, for children, this is something they can proudly show off after the weekend.
The participating teams from Chestermere, Hannah, Didsbury and IBSA have yet to face each other this football season. This year, young IBSA players have only played against teams from Acme, Linden and Langdon.
Usually the Big Country Football Association, which is part of the Alberta Football Association in which the IBSA plays, schedules and organizes the games. Due to the prolonged impact of COVID-19, they have not seen the same number of children registering for under-11 football this year, Greene said, and have left the task of scheduling those games up to individual local associations.
Green added that the Big Country Football Association also held a tournament for U11s and over, but the IBSA did not have enough children to register teams in the higher age categories.
“We had a decent amount of games considering there was nothing planned for us, we had a game almost every week and it was amazing,” said Green.
The IBSA players practiced once a week and played games frequently, making it accessible to most parents and children.
Green added that they never kept a score and some games went better than others, but all the young players had fun nonetheless.
“The kids haven’t played football in almost two years, many of them are new to the game and are trying to figure out if they like it or not,” Greene said. “Our goal was to make sure they enjoy being there with the team and they all participate and run a bit. And hopefully they enjoy it enough to come back next year.”
The football season started in mid-April and ends with a barbecue at the end of the year on the weekend after the festival.
Green said the tournament would go ahead in full swing despite the forecast for rain. The festival coordinator at the event on Saturday will call to stop the game or the entire festival if the weather gets too bad.
The games will be played at the Irrican’s football field along Henriks Drive and Cemetery Road.
For more information about the tournament, Click here.