It's about teamwork, protecting the person next to you and trusting they'll do the same. It's about getting knocked down and standing right back up. Football is about more than scoring touchdowns, and according to Jeff Yausie, that's why it's important to bring sport to as many people as possible.
"We are a province of hard workers and people who look out for one another, and that's what football is all about. That's why I think it's so important for everyone to have a chance to play," said Yausie, Executive Director of Football Saskatchewan, an organization responsible for developing and promoting amateur football in the province.
Football Saskatchewan is a volunteer driven non-profit organization made up of all levels of amateur football in Saskatchewan, everything from university to community football and their goal is to promote and grow the sport within the province.
"Through the passion and dedication of our volunteer network providing opportunities for participation all across the province, we've experienced growth in the past ten years. I believe the growth in the last few years is because we've really started focusing on bringing football to Aboriginal communities and encouraging more women to play," Yausie said.
In 1999, the organization had less than 8,000 members. Today, that number has more than doubled and Yausie attributes this growth to initiatives like The Northern Touchdown Program, which sent two university football players to communities north of La Ronge for the summer.
"It started with the guys just playing beach football with the adults, but then it caught on and three years later there is a six team league of young boys and girls playing tackle football that really just grew from nothing."
It's result like this and the impact they have on the communities that Yausie says encourages the organization to continue its work.
"It's really neat watching high school provincials. They're in early November, and it's getting cold and you go out to Humboldt or to Hanley and the fields are lined with cars, snow machine are zipping around. It just brings the community together.
"The funding through Saskatchewan Lotteries is crucial because it provides a stable base to build upon and as a member of Sask Sport we benefit from consulting, tools and resources that help us build capacity."
Football Saskatchewan has been able to help leagues across the province with coaching, skills development, improvements to their football fields, and funding for tournaments and league development; and its work Yausie believes will make a lasting impression on both the players and the province.
"Football teaches teamwork, selflessness and the ability to care for somebody else. As soon as you have that in football, you have a good team and what better life lesson is there than that," Yausie said. that receive financial support from the Lotteries Trust Fund, made possible by the sales of products such as LOTTO 6/49 and LOTTO MAX.