York staff, athletes connect with community youth through football skills camp

Lions football camp
Lions football camp

The Aurora Sports Dome was a sea of red March 26, filled with the sounds of laughing children, when more than 140 youth aged five to 14 took part in a free football skills camp hosted by the York Region Lions Football Association and the York University Varsity Football Program.

“The goal of the camp is simple,” said Warren Craney, York University head football coach and director of coaching and player development for the York Region Lions. “We want to make sure these kids develop a love of football; the first step is to ensure they have fun.”

Beginning in February, calls were put out to the wider York Region for camp participants. Youth were able to register for free, received complimentary red t-shirts and spent two hours learning football fundamentals from York University athletes.

Varsity football players, along with their Offensive Coordinator Kamau Peterson, volunteered their time on Sunday night to coordinate the camp, teaching participants speed fundamentals, throwing drills, catching opponents and strategy.

The most popular station? “British Bulldog,” said Kamau. “It’s so important that kids learn sports are fun first. Experiences like these help to build a positive base where an appreciation for physical activity can grow.”

More than 350 young athletes benefit annually from this partnership, through coaching development, skills camps such as these, mentorship and, of course, invitations to Lions home games.

“I got invited to a game,” said Gavin, who at five years old was one of the younger participants. “He said I can come watch him play!”

The free event was offered through a partnership between York University Lions Football and the York Region Lions Football Association. The varsity football program works closely with the youth football organization, which provides football programs to youth ages five to 19.