Eighty-six hopeful young men from across Canada who’ve already been stars in there hometowns are trying out for a chance at their dream this weekend in Duncan.
Training camp for the Vancouver Island Raiders is on and many have travelled through great challenges to make their way here. Two of the prospects, arriving with little more than their cars and the clothes on their backs after fleeing the wildfires of Fort McMurray.
Carrying sleeping bags, and long held dreams of this shot to prove themselves, recruits converge around busses in Nanaimo nervous and excited. Sizing up their competition at this weekend’s training camp for the Vancouver Island Raiders Football team.
“How much is riding on this, oh there’s a lot,” says Nathan Mayers.
Because for Mayers the belongings he has with him are all he ha,s after fleeing the Fort McMurray wildfires.
“You got single mothers out there trying to deal with kids with everything and yeah it’s a really sad story,” says Mayers. “It’s a lot to handle.
The 20 year old recruit says the loss has fuelled his drive to be here, like he’s never felt before.
“Kind of feel like the whole world is against me but kind of like it,” says Mayers. “You’ve just gotta bounce off it and go three times harder you know.”
Matt Cox, understands completely. He fled Fort McMurray too.
“Yeah everything kind of got lost in the fire,” says Cox. “Everything’s kind of behind. I got like four t-shirts. And here you are. Yeah they gave me this t-shirt so that’s kind of cool.”
No one is guaranteed a spot on the team, but they’ve come here from across Canada. 86 in all.
“And I find young men that leave home like that are very resilient right out of the get go,” says Curtis Hansen, VI Raiders Director of Football Operations. “Specifically our young men that come down from Fort Mac in the midst of all the turmoil that was going on down there. They’ve already got that what it takes to play ball. They got the determination. They’ve got that fight.”
On a Duncan football field, through Sunday they’ll get a shot to prove they deserve to make this team that’s already turned so many lives around.
“They could be the next Andrew Harris, Andrew Smith we’ve sent a whole lot of guys to that next level. They could be the next Jordan Yance,” says Hansen.
And Nathan Mayers has no intention of missing that bus.
“There’s gonna be a lot of cuts happening but I sure hope I make the team,” says Mayers.
Triumphing over tragedy, he hopes and making his hometown proud.