In a move aimed at shoring up their competitiveness and long-term sustainability, Penta Completions Estevan Minor Football has decided to change leagues.
The organization is moving its teams from Regina Minor Football to Moose Jaw Minor Football in the hopes of seeing better results on the field.
The move was announced at EMF's annual general meeting on Dec. 4.
Minor football president Kevin Mortenson said the teams' constant losing was hurting registrations.
"The big reason we went to Moose Jaw was our enrolment. Our enrolment in 2014 was down to right around 60 kids involved. Obviously, that translated into one of the teams (the bantam Steelers) not being around, and in all reality, I don't think we should have fielded a peewee team. They had 23 registered, but that doesn't mean everyone's going to show up. We all know what happened after that," said Mortenson, referring to the fact that the peewee Chargers were constantly playing shorthanded.
"Nobody likes to say it, but the kids are sick of losing. The parents are sick of driving to Regina to see their teams get beat 54-0. That's four hours out of their life and that's not even (including) attending the game. Between the kids and the parents, everybody just got sick of losing. We keep this up, we're not going to have a football program in Estevan," he added.
The minor football board kept a close eye on Weyburn's performance in the Moose Jaw league this year after they made the move, and they were happy with what they saw.
"Weyburn joined this past season because they were in the same boat in 2013. In peewee and bantam, their numbers just skyrocketed."
The one major change in making the move is that there is no atom division in Moose Jaw Minor Football.
Instead, EMF is looking at setting up a seven-man program for the atoms.
"It'll be teaching them the basics, how to play, kind of like timbit soccer or hockey. It's kind of a learn to play. Once we get that up and going at that age group, we'll be hopefully going to places like Carlyle, Lampman, Oxbow and Carnduff to see if they want to put in a team.This is just something we've been brainstorming. Weyburn is doing the same thing," Mortenson said.
Seeing Weyburn's success after making the switch, and knowing the opponents will be drawing from a centre much smaller than their previous opposition, makes Mortenson confident that the EMF teams will find some on-field success.
"I'm sure we're going to compete better with these teams than we did with the Regina teams. Regina, they draw from that 200,000-plus trade district, whereas ours is maybe 20,000. We figured we better give it a shot. Something had to be done. We couldn't compete with these Regina teams. The enrolment, that was the big thing. We had to try something different."
Meanwhile, four key members of the board stepped down at the AGM: Valerie Paulson, Wanda Harron, Shelley Heidinger and Dena Bachorcik.
Mortenson noted the organization is looking for more volunteers, especially to coach at the atom level.