Destination Kelowna as Calgary plans the Bears

Thursday, June 01 2006 @ 12:36 am ACST

Contributed by: Brett Northey

Australian Football in Canada continues to spread, with the Calgary Roos looking to create a spin-off side, the Bears, in much the same vein as the Vancouver Cougars have produced the Burnaby Eagles. These bears look a bit more intimidating than the cuddley koala "bears" that struggled on the Gold Coast in Australia a decade ago (before becoming the Brisbane Lions). And this weekend BC and Alberta sides will converge on Kelowna for a 10-a-side tournament, with a further event planned for Vancouver in July.

President of the Calgary Kangaroos is Canadian Gareth Williams. He told WFN that "the Calgary Bears are an expansion team in the development. What we are trying to do is get the idea started in 2006 and then split the Calgary Kangaroos into two teams in 2007. We've had one game of Bears vs Roos this season so far, it was essentially an inter-club match but we hope to have a few more and start creating two separate clubs".

More details can be found at the Roos' website (recently revamped), and the new Bears blog.

Kelowna is a bit over halfway from Calgary to Vancouver, and the matches for the Kelowna Footy Cup will be staged at the City Park Oval on June 3rd and 4th. "That's been my goal and something I've pushed for all this year. I was made club president this year and as a Canadian I am keen to get more Canadians involved. To that end we're having a 10-a-side tournament in Kelowna with two or three all-Aussie teams competing and 4 all-Canadian teams playing separately. We're hoping that having the Canadians play separately will encourage them more and bring the level down to where they can get more involved. I always note that some Aussie guys have as many years of playing experience as all of the Canadian guys put together".

Details were not finalised but Williams was hoping to see players from the Red Deer Magpies, Calgary, Vancouver, Burnaby and maybe Victoria (on Vancouver Island).

Also coming up is the West Coast Challenge, from July 22 to 23. Formerly known as the BC Cup, it will be held at the superb Thunderbird Stadium at the University of British Columbia. The hope is to field 50% - 50% Aussies and non-Aussies. Teams from Canada and the US are invited. Williams notes that Team Alberta are the back-to-back champions of the tournament and will be keen to defend their title.

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