Players attending a clinic at Westhills Stadium in Langford last week

West Shore athletes gaining national exposure

Local clinic possible stepping stone to next level

You probably have never heard of Ron Dias, even if you follow Canadian amateur football closely. If you are a Canadian or American university or college coach, however, you’re probably very familiar with Dias and the work he does.

“I call myself the most known unknown football evaluator in Canada,” said Dias, who has been establishing a great rapport with university coaches in Canada during the past 29 years.

This year marks Dias’ first trip to Langford for a clinic with the Westshore Rebels coaches, and he was impressed with what he’s seen.

“Langford’s done a tremendous job in building first class infrastructure, and I’m hearing the support for the team is great,” he said.

Dias runs a central scouting agency from his home in Conestogo, Ontario and is a driving force behind the Alberta and British Columbia Border Bowl annual game for promising players from Grade 6 to 12. Players vie for spots on four teams; the Young stars for Grades 6 and 7, the Future Stars for Grades 8 and 9, the Rising Stars for Grades 10 and 11, and the Current Stars for Grade 12.

The players are selected from camps, such as the one Dias attended last week at Westhills Stadium in Langford, where players workout under the watchful eyes of ABC Border Bowl scouts and coaches from the Rebels.

The players who make the best impression will play a game in Chilliwack in December for further evaluation. With those coming out on top, competing in Abbotsford on May 14 and 15, and again at UBC-Okanagan May 27 before the ABC Bowl game on May 28. Players from Alberta and B.C. go through the same process, and all teams are monitored closely to ensure there is equal practice time.

One of the key elements to why the ABC Border Bowl game is such a good evaluation tool, Dias said, is the partnership he has forged with VBN Sports (Virtual Broadcast Network).  “Their use of three camera angles, a play by play commentator and colour analyst gives the video a real professional feel. It’s a great scouting tool for coaches.”

Dias cites a quarterback from Delta who played in last year’s game as an example of how well the program works. “McGill University’s coach saw the video and called to get his contact info, even though the kid is only in Grade 9. It’s tremendous exposure for community and high school players.”

Although the teams play American-style four down football, the rules are the same as Canadian football. “The four downs ensures that the kids get more reps,” Diaz explained during a break at Westhills Stadium.

The qualities Dias looks for in players are attitude, enthusiasm and passion. “Are the kids working with coaches, are they hustling,” he said. “Does the kid look you in the eye? That’s very important to me in this environment.”

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