Stallions celebrate second decade
PHOTO COURTESY ANSON WILLIAMS
Despite having a shaky start, the founder of the Saint-Lazare Stallions football team, which welcomes boys and girls from surrounding regions as well, looks back on 20 years of football fun and hopes to move forward with another season post-pandemic.
Stallions football has been a positive force in the lives of roughly 2,400 boys and girls over the years in Saint-Lazare and surrounding areas. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the club, started by President and Founder Anson Williams against some interesting odds.
“They didn’t think it would work,” said Williams of his first conversation with the town of Saint-Lazare. Then-Mayor Paul Carzoli and Recreation Director Louis Paquin were skeptical and told Williams football had been looked at before and didn’t go anywhere for lack of interest. But with 10 years of coaching under his belt in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, and a drive to bring football to his new home in Saint-Lazare, Williams wasn’t ready to give up.
“I convinced them to give me the chance,” Williams told The Journal. “They provided space for a meeting, and told me, ‘you advertise it, you organize it, and if you manage to get 25 kids to show up, we’ll talk.’” They got 75 kids on their first day, and Stallions football was born.
Getting back on the gridiron
Their 20th season is off to a different kind of start. They cancelled their usual spring training camp because of COVID-19 leading Williams to joke, “A lot of kids haven’t gotten much exercise, though maybe their thumbs are strong from all the video games.”
With permission from Football Quebec to start again, they’ll be meeting in Saint-Robert Park in Saint-Lazare on Tuesday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. for all age levels from Tyke (ages 5-7) through Midget (16 and 17). Those interested are encouraged to pre-register online at www.stallionsfootball.ca so they can co-ordinate with coaches. This year they’re also giving parents a financial break. “We know it’s been tough for a lot of families, so for that reason, and in recognition of our 20th anniversary, we’re giving a 20 per cent discount for all registrations.”
A different season
Williams says for now it’ll be training and drills with no equipment and no contact, just to get kids back on track. “We’ll maintain all the required physical distancing, including for parents because the park has room to spread out.” They’re awaiting new directives to see if they’ll be allowed to don equipment and restart regular play. At this point they don’t know if it’ll happen, but they’re optimistic. Williams says, “at the very least the kids will be in shape and have a fun athletic activity for the summer. We hope we’ll be able to play the full season, but if comes to it and we learn next month we have to cancel, we’ll give full refunds without hesitation.”
Years of tradition
Another change this season is the retirement of Kim Jong, a woman who has been a key figure in the club since the beginning. “She was with me at that first meeting,” said Williams, “and she’s stuck with us in different positions ever since, even for years after her own son had grown and stopped playing with the club. She’ll really be missed.”
However many changes come, and whatever this season looks like, Saint-Lazare Stallions football will carry on. Anson Williams has been around long enough to see players who started as kids come back as coaches with kids of their own, and he continues to look forward to bright years ahead.
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