Despite a perfect season in 2008 and being named provincial champions in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Victoria Renegades may not be setting foot on the field this season.
Due to the Victoria Spartans and the Cowichan team leaving the division for the North Island Co-op League, the junior bantam football team, made up of 27 – 12 and 13 year olds – players are left without a league to play in this year.
The Renegades proposed to join the Vancouver Mainland Football League (VMFL) in June, offering to play half their games on the Mainland. Their request was turned down by a vote of the league’s club presidents.
“They told us it was an unexpected inconvenience, that they didn’t have time to do any more fundraising to support trips to the Island,” Renegades coach Zak Kremler said.
The Renegades then hoped to join their former opponents in the North Island Co-op League in July, but their request was denied.
A second request to join the VMFL was made simultaneously with their request to the North Island Co-op League. This time, Kremler thought that further concessions, including playing an unbalanced schedule, meaning they would travel to the Mainland for more than half of their games, as well as moving their home field to Sidney and offering to subsidize travel costs in order to make travel easier for the Mainland teams, would improve their chances. Again, they were rejected.
“I was told that some of them were upset at having to vote a second time,” Kremler said. “Only five of the clubs voted in time. We were told that two mroe clubs voted in favour of us, which would have let us play, but their votes came in too late.”
By the time the Renegades reached out to the Fraser Valley Community Football League, it was already too late — the league had already posted its schedule and recruited an even number of teams.
Kremler said the next step for the Renegades is to put together a season of four to six exhibition games against teams from other zones. Since the Island zone the Renegades usually play in is still valid, they would qualify for the provincials by default, as long as they can play three games.
Despite the unlikeliness of the Renegades playing a full season, the team has managed to hold on to their 27 players, who still show up to practice twice a week.
“It’s a testament to how much these kids, and their parents, love football,” Kremler said. “We’re keeping in mind that we’re dealing with 12 and 13 year-olds – this isn’t pro football.”