It’s a renaissance that’s been 30 years in waiting: The return of football to Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute.
With a little help from a tag-team of friends, principal Sam Miceli said the school was able to buy 50 sets of uniforms for students at Eastern Commerce and Monarch Park CIs, who are combing forces for the 2009–2010 season.
Both the Ford Football Foundation, run by Ward 2 councillor Rob Ford, and the Toronto Argonauts’ program Level the Playing Field separately contributed $10,000 each to Eastern Commerce’s revived football program.
“That’s really, I’d say, 95 percent of our expenses,” Miceli said. “We still don’t have the things that coaches drool over like the sleds, the tires, blocking dummies, that type of thing but more than enough just to get it going.”
Ford’s foundation started working with Eastern Commerce back in December, and had worked with Miceli when he was at Westview Centennial Secondary School.
On Sept. 16, the Argos chipped in with their donation to not only Eastern Commerce but to Lester B. Pearson, CW Jeffreys and North Albion Collegiate as well.
With a total of $20,000 from the dynamic duo of charities going to Eastern Commerce, it has helped fill students with gridiron dreams for years to come.
“Eastern Commerce is kind of cool because their first year for football is 1926 and the last time they had football was 1979,” Eric Holmes, Toronto Argonauts spokesperson, said. “It’s quite an occasion.
“This is really big for them and I think for the community as well.”
Canadian Football League president and CEO Bob Nicholson agreed, saying in a press release high school players represent the future.
“Many may go on to play in the CFL or at the university level,” he had said during a special Argos practice at CW Jeffreys Collegiate Sept. 16. “The goal of the Level the Playing Field program is to provide funding to schools in the Toronto District School Board to establish football teams at schools that don’t have them, and improve the quality and safety of the sport at schools which do have teams.
“A deeper goal is to enhance the school culture and spirit and develop football as an after school activity that can help curb youth violence in the community surrounding each school.”
Though Eastern Commerce has only a pool of 500 students to draw from for their resurrected Saints, Miceli is optimistic they’ll do well in the development league this season, adding there’s always room for tough girls too.
“It’s open from grade 9 to 12,” he said. “I haven’t had any girls come forward yet.
“We don’t get 50 kids out on a regular basis but I think we’ve got about 35–40 and we’re still trying to recruit kids in the building.”
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