St. Pat's and Northern line up in the 2016 Senior Boys Football Finals. Nov 19 ,2016 (photo by Jake Jeffrey)

Local football programs scaled back

Declining enrollment and injury concerns from parents have lead to local football programs being scaled back this season.

The Lambton-Kent junior football program has been axed, and there are just six senior teams competing locally this year compared to eight last season.

Blenheim’s senior team will be playing in a development league out of Windsor and John McGregor shut down their team due to a lack of players.

Lambton-Kent Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association (LKSSAA) Co-ordinator James Clarke said it’s a province-wide issue.

“A lot of today’s youth don’t participate in sports, they’re tied up with electronics or other things and they choose not to participate in sports,” said Clarke. “So, there’s overall declining enrollment, and we have a small percentage of decline in athletic participation as well. You couple those things together with parents and the concussion concerns, and the smaller schools really struggle to put a program together.”

Northern and Chatham-Kent’s junior teams folded, leaving only St. Pat’s and Ursuline College. Three teams are required for a sport to be sanctioned.

Clarke said some schools have shut down their hockey programs and there aren’t as many rugby programs as there have been in the past.

He isn’t as concerned about the future of those sports because they require fewer players to field a team.