Celebration time for P.E.I. Privateers

Football club receives $25,000 cheque when the 2014 Kraft TSN Celebration Tour stops in Charlottetown

Charles Reid creid@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on August 22, 2014

Jennifer Hedger pumps her arm to the music while she and Nabil Karim co-host an edition of TSN’s SportsCentre live from Victoria Park in Charlottetown on Thursday as part of the 2014 Kraft TSN Celebration Tour.

©Guardian photo by Nigel Armstrong

It was a big cheque, but $25,000 is a lot of money.

And Terry Allen and Chris (Tex) Mutch of the P.E.I. Privateers football club don’t mind cashing in the mammoth bank draft if it helps turn the club’s practice turf, Birchwood Field in Charlottetown, into its home facility.

And if it helps raise the club's profile.

“We want to smooth and roll out the field, get some kind of scoreboard, and blocking sleds. We want to play all our home games there and make it a centre for football,” said Allen, the Privateers general manager, on Thursday. “(The money) both for the club and football puts us in the (sports conversation) on P.E.I.”

The bounty is courtesy of the 2014 Kraft TSN Celebration Tour where $100,000 worth of improvements for community facilities is up for grabs.

The Privateers were one of 10 finalists across the county to receive $25,000, which came in a ceremony at Victoria Park on Thursday before a live broadcast of TSN’s SportsCentre.

It was also part of a three-hour carnival-like celebration including free food, face painting, games and live bands.

The tour and TSN is visiting all 10 finalists. The tour wraps early next week.

Online voting for another $75,000 to bring to the total to $100,000 was last month. A winner should be announced late next week.

The Privateers play in the Maritime Football League which includes teams in Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton, N.B.

Usually, P.E.I. three regular season home games and for over a decade has shuffled from area fields, sometimes without dressing rooms or bathrooms.

The senior team was once the lone football team for players over 18 in town after football on P.E.I. wallowed for nearly 20 years as UPEI and Island high schools dropped the sport.

Now the club boasts teams at the bantam and varsity levels that help feed the parent club and a collegiate team at Holland College in the Atlantic Football League.

This year, the club started flag football programs for players under 12 and under eight years of age.

Mutch, who’s quarterbacked the club for several years and coaches the minor levels, said the money not only can continue what the club started 12 years ago, but the attention only helps showcase the club.

“We’ve always struggled with awareness on P.E.I. (This) just puts our name out there,” Mutch said.

Mutch has also picked glass out of Birchwood Field (owned by the provincial government through the English Language School Board) before practice, a legacy to the field’s earlier days as a scrap yard.

Changes began in 2009 when goalposts and grass replaced windshield glass and lug nuts.

And if those improvements continue, it strengthens the club’s foundation and gives older players less worry about transitioning to a younger generation.

“I don’t want to play quarterback on the senior team forever,” he said.

Birchwood also hosts soccer teams and is used by the P.E.I. Flag Football League, and has a walking track.

The City of Charlottetown maintains the field.

The team is looking for local business partner(s) to act as team sponsor(s). Contact Allen at www.peiprivateers.com. or on Facebook.