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Franco-Cité coaches Eric Renaud (left) and Roch Lachance are flanked by students Johnny Bourque, 16, and Martin Primeau, 14. The Patriotes are in great spirits after being one of the 18 chosen among 1400 applicants for a $10,000 football equipment grant.
by Brad Aubin
The Franco-Cité Patriotes football program got a huge boost both in terms of equipment and team morale, with a big grant and a personal pep talk from one of their sports heroes. Just before the school year started, the Patriotes learned they were the only Canadian team to be selected as an ‘18 in 18’ Ridell Smarter Football equipment grant winner, earning a whopping $10,000 credit for new football gear. Just as exciting as the news was how it was received, by e-mail with a personalized video by brand ambassador and NFL star Peyton Manning.
It was a huge shock to Jr. football coach Eric Renaud, who saw the ad for the grant on social media and applied on a whim last year.
“It was just an ad,” he says. “I figured ‘why not? What do I have to lose?’ Lo and behold about mid-August, I get this email saying congrats. I had completely forgotten that I had even applied!” he laughs.
Ridell provided him with a catalogue of sports equipment, and told him he had $10,000 to spend.
“We spent $9,000 on helmets. Without a shadow of a doubt, helmets are the most important thing for safety,” says Senior Patriotes head coach Roch Lachance. “It’s also the most expensive item we spend on for the program. Every year, we allocate funds to buy six new helmets. That way, we keep helmets constantly in rotation, making sure that the students are safe. With this money, we were able to buy 30 in one go. It’s a huge expense, but now we will be saving tons of money and will be able to buy various other equipment from tackling dummies and other pieces that before would be left out. Safety is our biggest concern. It’s an integral part of our program and these 30 helmets will help keep these kids safe for the next decade. It’s a way for us to be extremely proactive.”
Renaud applied for the grant mid-June, and had to outline why he thought his school deserved the help.
“We’re a small coaching staff and we’re a very small school. We have 300 odd students and are always competing against schools that are much, much bigger than ours. Despite our small school, we are constantly able to field both a junior and senior team, which is pretty rare throughout the province. I also talked about [Roch Lachance]’s summer program, which gives a chance to students in Grade 7 and 8 to play some football, learn the game the right way, while also earning them a half-credit. The program’s been around for a long time, and really emphasizes safety, and garners interest for the sport to our new students. It’s a team effort,” he sums up.
Overall, being one of just 18 teams chosen for the grant is also a big compliment, he says.
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