By Coach James Ryan
Earlier this year, it was announced that the Niagara Storm youth football organization had officially decided to leave the OMFL in order to join the largest tier one football league in Ontario – the Ontario Football Conference (OFC) for the following divisions: Pee Wee (ages 11-12), Bantam (ages 13,14), Junior Varsity (ages 15-16), and Varsity (ages 17-19). However, since the OFC does not offer a division for the Atom level players (ages 9-10), the Storm had decided to remain on with the OMFL while they continued to explore more suitable options for their youngest group of players who are currently being led by the legendary Niagara minor football coach, Kent Risko.
Today, that option has finally come to full fruition, as the Niagara Storm, who aside from being proud members of the OFC, will now also become an official affiliate member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Minor Football Association (HWMFA), and that’s just the first major announcement of the day.
“We have partnered with the Port Dover Steel Heads and the Niagara Storm in St. Catharines to help promote youth football,” said Joe Sardo, Director of the HWMFA skills camp and minor development programs. “What that means is that we’ll potentially have one or two away dates as a result of this cross-over in partnership. Also, it should be noted that we are only partnering with those who we feel are the best and who share our vision.”
The HWMFA was originally established in 1982 and is widely recognized as one of Southern Ontario’s premier football associations. They offer a variety of programs from house league, to rep travel teams, to tier one Provincial Varsity teams. Their program has long become the first choice for developmental and competitive youth football in the Greater Hamilton area.
According to their website, the mission of the HWMFA is to “operate and compete in both developmental and competitive youth leagues in the South Central Ontario area in an effort to attain a safe environment of fair play and sportsmanship, while encouraging athletic endeavors to promote the physical, mental, moral and skill development of children in the game of football. The HWMFA will keep the welfare of its participants free of any adult ambition or personal glory and will promote the ideas of the youth sports regardless of race, religion, gender or national origin.”
“This is a great opportunity for us to establish a grass roots system that will continue to develop our rep travel program,” said Storm President, Frank Trivieri. “The HWMFA is a true collective of all communities in the local Peninsula. We are proud and excited to be a member of their organization.”
The second major announcement today is that the Storm Pee Wee team, which is currently being led by head coach, Nick Pelligrino, will no longer be competing in the OFC. Instead, they will now compete in the HWMFA.
The third and final major announcement is that the Niagara Storm have also decided to add a sixth team to their organization – the Tyke level (ages 7-8). This would be the youngest age group in the entire organization and one that strictly focuses on having fun as a main priority. The team would only require a minimum roster of 15 players in order to compete – playing nine kids per side with an on-field coach/safety supervisor.
“In fact, if there are any moms out there who would like to give coaching a try, we’d love to have you on board for our Tyke team,” said Trivieri. “At that young of an age, the only things that really matter are having fun and being supported by someone who truly cares.”
The Niagara Storm is now entering into its fifth season, and are hands-down the fastest growing football program in the Niagara Region. And yes, they are still accepting registrations for all age levels from Tyke on through to Senior Varsity.
For more information, please visit www.niagarastorm.com