By CLAUDE SCILLEY
It appears Canada’s participation in July’s International Federation of American Football world championship is uncertain.
In a phone call Friday afternoon, Football Canada technical director Shannon Donovan said she wouldn’t be able to say anything for certain about the future of the national senior team until next Friday, less than 12 weeks from the start of the tournament in Canton, Ohio, July 9.
“We’re still looking at the composition of the team,” she said.
Neither would Donovan comment on any of the details of a scenario that has left doubt whether Canada, which won the silver medal at the last world championship, in 2011, would even participate in the tournament.
sportkingston.ca has learned that Football Canada, the national sport-governing body, had abdicated its role in organizing the team, since only a handful of players, asked to generate $2,500 to subsidize their own participation, had responded in the affirmative. In 2011, Football Canada covered all the athletes’ expenses for a tournament in Austria.
Football Canada then asked the Northern Football Conference, an amateur senior league based largely in Ontario, to form a team in its place. Evidently the Canadian Interuniversity Sport coaches had concerns about that and, apparently, Western Mustangs coach Greg Marshall resigned as the head coach of Team Canada.
The NFC had begun to recruit coaches and contact prospective athletes when the Ontario Football Alliance, the provincial sport-governing body, objected. That’s because the NFC is not a member of the Alliance, which represents the province within Football Canada.
Donovan did not comment on the validity of those details.
“You sure have a lot of information,” she said.
Marshall has not responded to a request for an interview.
Kingston’s Scott Valberg, the former all-Canadian from Queen’s who had been asked to join the team—and had begun to raise money toward his participation—had heard some of the same revelations. As a result, he’s decided not to play.
Valberg said he got a telephone call Wednesday from Warren Goldie, the former Queen’s coach who was the offensive co-ordinator of the Gaels for four of Valberg’s varsity seasons. Goldie told Valberg he'd just been named Team Canada's offensive co-ordinator.
“I thought it was weird, because he wasn’t on the original staff,” Valberg said, but nonetheless, he was excited.
“I was super stoked that he was coaching,” Valberg said, “then it kind of dawned on me that all these other things were going to be factors. Once I heard that Football Canada wasn’t going to be organizing it, (Goldie’s involvement) was one of the only things that was keeping me somewhat interested.
“Based on the sketchiness of everything, it’s not going to be worth my while to have to wonder what’s actually going to happen and who’s organizing it and waiting to hear from everybody, so from that I said no thanks.
“Nothing against any individuals, there’s just not the same appeal as before. I was interested in playing with a lot of up-and-coming young guys, and playing with the CIS coaches. I have a lot of respect for Greg Marshall, and how he coached us in the last tournament, but the uncertainty—I’d rather not have that stress.”
Even if the team is pulled together in the next seven days, Valberg said it’s unlikely he’d change his mind.
“Probably not. I can’t think of a scenario where Football Canada would get back involved in it, and once the decision’s made, the decision’s made. I don’t want to flip-flop too much. It’s not really fair to (my wife) Ashley or anybody else that’s involved.
“I’m disappointed. It would have been nice to play one more time at a higher level, but at the same time, it’s not worth the stress, the inability to plan. I had a pretty good run while I was still playing competitively.”