Canada set to charter new flag football waters at 2020 International Bowl
By Ameeta Vohra
2020 marks a new era for Canada at the International Bowl.
With the growing popularity of flag football, this nation has four teams (two senior men’s and two senior women’s) competing in the week-long event in Arlington, Texas.
The Team Canada Red Senior Women’s team kicks off all the action on Sunday January 12, 2020 when the team squares off against Mexico’s Coahuila squad. Game start is 9:00 a.m. CST
Meanwhile, our country’s second entry, Team Canada Grey will battle Diablos from Mexico at 10:30 a.m. CST.
Both teams will continue the round robin round on Sunday and then move onto the playoff round on Monday January 13, 2020. Canada’s teams will be competing to land a spot in the gold medal game which is set to go on Tuesday January 12, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. CST.
Francois Bougie is wearing double hats in this tournament. Not only is he the head coach of the Team Canada Grey, but he is also playing a pivotal role as National Women’s Team Head Coach and using the International Bowl as part of the selection process for the team that will represent the nation at the 2020 World Flag Championships in Denmark this upcoming summer.
“The main idea is to see and evaluate the players in a competitive environment and possibly get them out of their comfort zone,” Bougie says. “It’s all about our players getting experience an getting it together as we don’t know much about other teams.”
Despite being unfamiliar with the other teams, Bougie is expecting the United States squads (Stars and Stripes) to be competitive because of the level of skill and talent they boast coupled by the fact they are going through the same evaluation process for their national flag team.
“We have no idea what to expect from the others teams other than they will bring a different style of play than we are used to seeing in North America,” Bougie adds. “All in all it should be a fun experience for all of us.”
As for the two competing Canadian squads, only two players return from the previous World Flag team squads. Both Marylou Beland and Lauriane Beauchamp, who are on Team Canada Grey were teammates on the 2018 National Team that competed in the IFAF World Flag Championships that were hosted in Panama City, Panama. Beauchamp was also part of the 2016 National team that competed in the IFAF World Flag Championships in Florida.
One major strength on both Team Grey and Red is the depth at the quarterback position. Team Red’s quarterbacks who will provide a 1-2 punch on offence are Alex Eyolfson and Cori Thorstad. Meanwhile, Sarah Parker is the pivot to watch on Team Grey.
“It will be interesting to see what our quarterbacks can do against athletic and quick defenses,” Bougie adds.
Bougie, along with Team Canada Red’s head coach Brian Thorstad, will be instructing two very young teams. However, there is one player who could garner a lot of attention during International Bowl week – Team Canada Grey’s Blake Geier who turned in a sensational performance at the 2019 Canadian Flag Football League (CFFL) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and was rewarded with tournament MVP honours.
Meanwhile, both Team Canada Grey and Red squads are being instructed by National Team head coach Chad Palmer. Canada will kick off the Senior Men’s Flag competition at the 2020 International Bowl on Sunday January 12, 2020 when Team Canada Grey will tackle Israel at 10:30 a.m. CST. Then, Team Canada Red will battle the Grey squad at 12:00 p.m. CST.
In addition to the both Canadian entries and Israel, Japan and two United States Squads round out the teams in the round robin portion of the event. Like the Women’s event, the men will play a playoff round on Monday January 13, 2020 in the hopes of making the gold medal game to be played on Tuesday January 14, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. CST in Arlington, Texas.
Like Bougie, Palmer will be using this event as a measuring tool in the selection process for the men’s National Team who will represent the country at the 2020 IFAF World Flag Championships in Denmark.
“I expect both of our teams to be very competitive even though it’s our first time together,” Palmer says. “All of the players are making the trip to compete amongst themselves to be selected for the team that goes to Denmark this summer.
That alone will have both teams playing with an edge and ready to go come Sunday when games start.”
Continuing the momentum from his MVP performance at the 2019 CFFL Championships is Winnipeg, Manitoba quarterback/receiver Trysten Dyce. Palmer said the expectations will be high for Dyce after he turned in some “insane” plays at the national championship and is hoping he will build upon that performance.
A veteran of two previous World Championship squads is defensive star Chris Friesen from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. While he missed last summer’s CFFL tournament due to an injury, Friesen is expected to make the most of his playing time at the 2020 International Bowl.
As for Team Canada Red, one player to watch for is former USPORTS All- Canadian and Ottawa, Ontario native Ian Stewart.
“I’ve only got to watch Ian at Central Regionals,” Palmer says. “I am very excited to see how he is at a higher level of competition.”
Additionally, Montreal, Quebec’s Serge Pilon can be dangerous on the field as he is an explosive, all-round athlete.
“He will be playing centre this week which is a position that we feel he can destroy teams at,” Palmer adds. “I can’t wait to see it play out.”
For more information on the flag teams at the 2020 International Bowl, click here for schedules, rosters, and more.
This post is also available in: French