The Southeast Junior Roughnecks are looking to bring junior football to Estevan, and give local kids a chance to play football beyond the high school level.
Jason Bresciani and Frank DeBruyn are at the helm of the team. They are organizing a meeting at the Western Star Hotel in Estevan on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. They will give some background on their efforts to start up the team, and they hope to have board members by the end of the night.
Once the board is set, then the team can start looking at bylaws, policies and sponsorships. The team will be community-owned, so they are looking for sponsors from throughout the southeast region.
Bresciani said that he and DeBruyn coach and referee football games. When they would talk to high school football players while officiating, they would talk about what those players are doing after high school.
“The majority of the answer that we get is ‘I wish I could keep playing football,’” said Bresciani.
Not a lot of players in the southeast are able to move up to the next level in the sport. They have also seen lower registration numbers for Penta Completions Estevan Minor Football, and they want to see the sport grow in Estevan.
They believe a junior team would help.
“The biggest thing is to keep the players playing in the southeast, and maybe create some excitement for the kids, something to shoot for,” said Bresciani.
DeBruyn started researching options to see if it was feasible from a financial standpoint. They spent about 1 1/2 years looking at possible options.
They even reached out to the Canadian Junior Football League, which has teams in Saskatoon and Regina through the Prairie Football Conference, to find out their requirements, and how they operate. They realized they wouldn’t be able to field a team in that division.
“It’s almost like a mini pro team,” said Bresciani. “They expected a bigger field facility, which we knew we’re probably looking at about a 10-year project. But we wanted it now.”
DeBruyne looked into the other leagues out there, and found the Manitoba Major Junior Football League, which plays on high school fields in that province. It’s for ages 18-22, which is the same age range as the Canadian Junior Football League.
The league had 12 teams at one time, but is now down to four. Three of the teams are from the Winnipeg area and the other is based in Brandon. The league hopes Dauphin might be able to return.
Having a team in Brandon would help with travel costs.
Teams played a six-game schedule last season. The opening week was in late August, and the final week of the regular season was in mid-October.
It’s a competitive league, but not as high as the Canadian Junior Football League.
The Roughnecks would have a drawing area that would include Estevan, Weyburn and the smaller communities in the southeast.
“We have reached out to Moosomin, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we started drawing from Esterhazy and those high school teams and associations. Our focus would be the southeast corner,” said Bresciani.
He expects games would be played in Estevan and Weyburn each year.
Bresciani noted they have the backing of University of Regina Rams and the Regina Thunder junior program to move forward with this project.