League office and clubs gave back to enrich and grow Canadian football last season

TORONTO (May 30, 2024) – In 2023, the Canadian Football League (CFL) and its nine member clubs invested more than $4 million in various projects, initiatives and programs to support a singular collective goal: heightening the state of Canadian football.

These unified efforts – ranging from increasing youth participation and developing coaching, to engaging underserved communities, advancing grassroots development and beyond – furthered the league’s commitment to not only growing the game, but to also serving Canadians.

“When I speak with players, fans, youth or anyone in the Canadian football community, one recurring theme is how much this great game has given us – life lessons, careers, friendship, joy and more,” said CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

“When we look ahead as a league, our efforts aren’t solely about giving back; they’re about paying it forward. Our focus is ensuring football can open more paths for more boys and girls, and that it can create more opportunities for more communities.”

The 2023 season culminated in the Montreal Alouettes being crowned Grey Cup champions to cap a season of highs on the field and also growth away from it, as the CFL banded together to sustain and support the future of Canadian football.


CFL League Office
The Women in Football Program presented by KPMG, the Diversity in Football Program presented by Securian Canada and the Officiating Academy returned to further their missions of providing opportunities within the Canadian football community. The Quarterback Internship was brought back with a renewed focus on developing young talent at the vital position, while the CFL Passing Showcase East in Halifax provided fun and meaningful competition for U SPORTS players. The league also renewed its commitments to the East-West Bowl, and to Football Canada through the Officiating Taskforce initiative. The CFL’s continued partnership with Physical and Health Education Canada extended the game’s reach at the grassroots level by providing educators with age-appropriate resources to teach football knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Across more than 200 hours over 50 community appearances and 15 school visits through the Ensemble à l’école program, the Alouettes spent the past year re-affirming their commitment to the Montreal and Quebec-based football communities. Over half the team took part in the programs, helping to re-engage young people and revitalize the game throughout the province. Proceeds from the 50/50 program were used to support Football Quebec, while the club also raised funds for various amateur football programs.

As part of the REDBLACKS’ continued efforts to engage youth, the team hosted two Community Practices with local minor football clubs with eight local communities taking part in various drills. The team’s Coaching Clinic, which has become an annual tradition in the Nation’s Capital, brought together over 120 coaches from across Eastern Ontario and Quebec for a one-day event with Ottawa’s coaching staff. The REDBLACKS and the uOttawa Gee-Gees football team hosted a one-day clinic in the local Indigenous community of Akwesasne, engaging over 50 youth in various football drills. The team totalled 600 hours of youth programming appearances at community homes, mentorship programs and practice drop-ins, while donating funds through the 50/50 program to the National Capital Amateur Football Association.

The team partnered with Football Toronto to create the Toronto Argos’ Equipment Bank, loaning more than 150 certified helmets free of charge to high schools across the city. The program will recertify helmets for their entire 10-year lifespan, removing the carrying cost for underfunded schools. In partnership with Malton Neighbourhood Services, the Argos Flag Football program provided 150 youth aged 8-12 with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of flag football in a community-based, non-competitive setting. In total, the team engaged more than 25 different local communities through over 300 hours of programming by players, staff, cheerleaders and their mascot, Jason the Argonaut.

Through the Tiger-Cats High School Mentorship Program powered by Stelco, players visited participating football teams for two practices and one game, to assist coaches with drills while providing leadership and character development to student athletes. As part of the program, five participants were also each awarded a $2,000 scholarship to pursue excellence on and off the field. Play It Forward, sponsored by LIUNA, brought together over 100 Indigenous youth from Six Nations, Missisaugas of the Credit First Nation, and the Hamilton community for an evening of football drills and traditional games with Ticat players & Indigenous leaders at Tim Hortons Field. Hundreds of Indigenous and local Hamilton youth were then hosted at a special home game to bring them closer to the sport they love.

The Blue Bombers prioritized sharing the game with future generations of football players across the province. Over 2,500 youth participated in the team’s #TryFootball programming, supporting the sport at the grassroots level, while another 1,400 took part in flag football skill development, and another 1,350 at the U12/14 and U16/U18 age groups honed their tackle skills through the W Academy and the Blue & Gold Showcase. In partnership with Bell MTS, 100 underprivileged players were provided the opportunity to take part in youth tackle football after having their registration fees covered. Through the Helmets for High School Program, 675 helmets were distributed to promote player safety. The team’s Coaches Clinic hosted 100 amateur coaches for offseason positional learning sessions to improve the state of the game throughout Manitoba.

The Roughriders spent an estimated 425 hours engaging the community through various appearances from 46 different players, 18 alumni, team mascot Gainer, and 23 Cheer team members. The team also totalled 312 school presentations through its Win with Wellness and Rider Reading Programs, championing youth mental health and literacy. The Roughriders took part in 101 additional community events, including the North Sask Football League Camp, their Grow the Game Camps, and their Back-to-School Backpack Program.

The Stampeders Foundation's support of minor and amateur football and the southern Alberta community was due in large part to the Calgary Stampeders 50/50 program. The majority of donations were directed to football teams, associations, fields, facilities and football school programming. This included ongoing support of Calgary high schools through the financing of HUDL digital coaching tools, the Stampeders Grow the Game and Stampeders Development Funds. These programs helped support existing football programs, and the growth and introduction of football to youth in the community. In 2023, the Stampeders collaborated with 24 separate community football programs including ongoing and strong support of the Colts, Dinos and bantam programs.

The Elks averaged 30 community appearances per month from May to October, tallying 237 in total and over 2,286 hours throughout the season. The organization took part in nearly 1,000 events over the course of the year. The team organized events or appeared as guest coaches for the Capital District Minor Football Association, Junior Football, the Indigenous Football Camp, Flag Football, and Super Sports Day. The team’s Annual Community Tour presented by Tim Hortons saw Elks players spend a week visiting fans in Leduc, Sherwood Park, St. Albert and Spruce Grove, meeting hundreds of fans at local Tim Hortons restaurants, while also arranging free camps for local minor football associations in each town.

Play with the Pros is the Lions’ free non-contact football skills clinic. Open to all youth aged 6-13, the clinic is hosted by players with an emphasis on fun, teamwork and inclusivity, in hopes of promoting lifelong fitness and life skills training through the sport. As part of the team’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, the Lions’ Indigenous Youth Program involves connected with young people from across the lower mainland to learn the fundamentals of flag football with coaching from current players. The Punt Pass Kick program partnered with more than a dozen local associations for 16 events, reaching over 1,700 participants.

Lucas Barrett

Associate Vice-President, Communications & Public Affairs, Canadian Football League

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