The football coaching staff from Mount Douglas Secondary pledged to give blood after hearing that the Canadian Blood Service was seeking donations during the summer months.
The coaches then decided to extend a blood drive challenge to other high school football coaches from the Lower Mainland.
The team with the most coaches who donate will win the challenge and will receive footballs from Baden Football — one for every coach on the winning team, said Mount Douglas Rams program co-ordinator Mark Townsend.
Farhan Lalji, the head coach of the New Westminster Secondary football team and TSN reporter, contacted a representative from Baden Football to set up the prize and Baden was on board, Townsend explained.
“Hence the Blood for Balls Challenge was born,” he said.
Throughout the month of July, all varsity and junior varsity coaches from high school football programs across the Lower Mainland were asked to participate by donating blood.
Coaches from Carson Graham Secondary, Centennial Secondary, Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, New Westminster Secondary, Terry Fox Secondary and, of course, Mount Douglas Secondary have accepted the challenge.
Townsend kept track of each team’s contributions as they updated him weekly. Eight coaches from Mount Douglas have donated blood and several more planned to get their donations in just under the wire.
Each coach was allowed to donate once in the 31-day competition period as men can only donate every 56 days and women every 84. Townsend pointed out that the team with the most coaches won’t necessarily win as not everyone is eligible to donate and there are a number of reasons that a person could be unable to donate including a low platelet count and a recent tattoo.
On Tuesday, Townsend attended his booked appointment to donate blood at the Canadian Blood Services location in Saanich, but winning wasn’t on his mind.
“If we can help save some lives, then that’s what it’s about,” he said.
Townsend hopes the challenge will spread the word about the need for blood donations and inspire his athletes to donate when they’re old enough. This is the first year of the competition and the challenge was only extended to certain schools but Townsend hopes to continue the challenge next year and invite even more schools to participate.
The Canadian Blood Services is always looking for blood donations, monetary donations and volunteers. For more information, visit their website.