Throughout Canada, high school and midget football programs have great traditions, however, prior to the Football Canada Cup amateur football players lacked the opportunity to compete for a National Championship. This would all change in the early 1990’s as players would finally get the opportunity to represent their province on a national stage.
The structure of the event has evolved over the years from a 19 and under, to an under-19 (U19) event, expanding to a second U17 division (in 2004) and finally merging (in 2010) to its current single U18 format. The U18 format supports the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model as well as the growth and player development within each province. Despite structural changes, what has remained consistent is the opportunity this event gives players as they prepare to move on to the next stage of their careers, football or otherwise.
The origin of the Football Canada Cup dates back to the 1960’s when a National Midget Championship called the ‘Little Grey Cup’ was proposed by the delegates of the Canadian Amateur Football Association (CAFA); the precursor to Football Canada. At this time, high school football was much more prominent than midget leagues so the idea never came to fruition. There was however a proposal brought forth to create a national tournament that included Provincial Teams which would replace the club team championship.
The concept of a National Championship still took two more decades to develop and in 1990, Nova Scotia offered to host a National Provincial Team Championship that attracted teams from Ontario, Québec, and New Brunswick. In 1991, the first interprovincial game between Alberta and Manitoba took place.
In 1993, Football Canada hosted a pilot national event called the Merritt Cup (named after the first President of the CAFA) for players aged 19 and under, held in Calgary, AB. This tournament attracted provincial all-star teams from B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec. This first championship of its kind was very successful and saw Québec defeat B.C. 38-32, lead by slotbacks Bret Anderson (future B.C. Lion) and Jerome Pathon (future Indianapolis Colt),.
In 1994, plans were made to host a tournament to be held in 1995 which would facilitate the competition of as many provinces as possible, finishing with a Canada East vs. West format. With the help of federal funding and a sponsorship deal with Air Canada, the first official Football Canada Cup was scheduled for July 1995. The decision was made to name the event after the rebranded National Governing Body, Football Canada– the event’s name and abbreviation (FCC) has stuck ever since. The first tournament was extremely successful as Eastern Regional Champion– Team Québec and Western Champion– Alberta met in the National Final in Montreal. Team Alberta surprised Québec with a 10-6 win.
Despite cuts from federal funding in 1996, Football Canada still managed to hold a round robin tournament with 4 provinces in Red Deer, Alberta. Then in 1997, the East vs. West format was brought back with a twist– all participants played games at the same site.
The FCC has undergone an evolution over the years. The 2010 edition saw the re-emergence of both B.C. who has last played in the event in 2000 and Nova Scotia who had last played in the U19 division in 2004 and U17 division in 2005. New Brunswick who has a rich history of FCC participation is working towards submitting a team for the 2012 edition of the FCC, having previously played in the event last in 2003.
(with reference from ‘Miracle at McGill’)
To promote the game of football to Canada’s youth; encourage individuals to participate in football at a high level of competition and to instill a lifelong commitment to fitness, fair-play, and fun through recreational and organized games of football.
- To provide Canada’s best players in the Under 18 age divisions the opportunity to participate in a National Championship and develop their skills.
- To promote and showcase these individuals as the best players in the Under 18 age categories
- To promote National Unity by permitting athletes from the various regions of Canada to live together once a year while participating in a National Championship, and to see and experience the culture of the Host Province and City.
- To promote and develop consistent delivery systems, programs, and rules among all Provincial Associations for the development of young football players.
- To promote Football Canada and Provincial Association Programs
- To encourage individuals to continue playing Amateur Football in Canada at the Junior and University levels.
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