Proposed Maritime Junior Football League

Maritime Junior Football League on Horizon
Local group attempting to create new football league which could kick off in September

Times & Transcript Staff, April 12, 2004

          Fresh off the heels of Moncton MLA Michael Murphy's idea of landing a Canadian Football League franchise in Moncton, another group is attempting to start up a junior football team in the city and a Maritime league. The group, which includes Moncton Football Association president Dan Fougere and former Mount Allison Mounties and Moncton High Purple Knights coach Peter Comeau, hopes to have the Maritime Junior Football League up and running by September.
         Fougere said the league, for players ages 18-22, would most likely only feature two teams the other from Charlottetown - in its inaugural season this fall, but could grow to include Halifax, Fredericton and Saint John in the near future. "We're the only area in Canada that doesn't have a junior football league," said Fougere, who first thought of the idea when his son, Craig, went to Burlington, Ont. to play junior football four years ago. "We have seven high schools in this city and another coming next year and not all of those players go to university. It would give the kids that don't go to university a chance to keep playing football or for kids that take year off from school to keep on playing. "And not every kid goes to university right out of high school and this would give them a chance to play a couple of years and then go play university football."
           Teams would play a four-game schedule - two home-and-home series - and then play the Quebec Junior Football League winner in an Eastern Canadian championship game in November. Games would be held on Saturdays or Sundays. An exhibition game between Moncton and the Ottawa Sooners of the Quebec junior league would kick off the season in early September.
            The Moncton group will hold an information session for any interested players, coaches and volunteers Thursday at 7 p.m. at the City of Moncton works building, opposite the Moncton Coliseum. "I think there are enough kids around who want to play, but we need to know if they are committed to this. We need them to come out to the meeting and let us know if they're committed to this," said Fougere, who added the team would need about 35 players to operate. "You have to start somewhere, even if it's just two teams in the first year. If we could get it going this year, it would get our foot in the door, but we need people to come to the meeting."
              Fougere said other Maritime cities would then follow. "I know there are a lot of Moncton kids that go to university at UNB in Fredericton who would like to keep playing football. I also think Halifax would jump on and maybe even have two teams from Halifax later on," he said. "I also see Saint John in the mix. I think once it gets going, you'll see other teams jump on board." Fougere said the Maritimes loses players who move to Quebec, Ontario and Western Canada to play junior football. "This has been a dream of mine since Craig went to Burlington to play junior football," he said. 
               "It wouldn't be a big circuit, so there wouldn't be a lot of travel and they would have the Eastern Canadian championship to vie for. "And they can still make the pros. More (pro) teams draft players out of university, but you don't have to go to university to make it. You can play junior football and make it too." The major obstacle in the plan is the start-up costs, which include $22,000 for equipment. "That's one of the big challenges, it's always an obstacle. There's also the shortage of referees and that's another challenge. We really want to work so we co-exist with high school, minor and college football," Fougere said.

For more information, call Fougere at 383-9315 or 866-7904, Comeau at 859-0282 or Roger Collette at 857-9819.

Junior Links