Saskatchewan

Football team including players from 3 First Nations wraps up 1st season

This has been the first year of football for Tasean Lavallee, but he already knows that he wants more.

'I see so much potential,' says OKC Buffalos head coach

Xander Delorme of the Ochapowace-Kahkewistahaw-Cowessess Buffalos in pursuit during the 2021 Unity Ball with the Sheldon Williams Collegiate Spartans in Regina. (Dan Plaster/CBC)

Tasean Lavallee liked his first football season so much that he wants to play more.

The Grade 12 Cowessess Community Educational Centre student is just one of the athletes who joined students from two other schools to form the OKC Buffalos football team this season.

The team made up of players from schools on three different First Nations in southeast Saskatchewan — the Ochapowace Nation, Kahkewistahaw First Nation and Cowessess First Nation — wrapped up the season with an exhibition game on Tuesday.

"It's a good bonding experience," Lavallee said, adding that he was able to meet new people from around the community.

In the past, his school didn't offer football, but Chief Kahkewistahaw Community School did have a football program. This year was the first time the three communities came together to field a team. They played their first game in early September.

While it's been a mix of ups and downs for the team, with some players dropping out, head coach Ryan Hall is looking forward to continuing the Buffalos football program permanently.

"We'll still do a spring camp like most high school teams in Saskatchewan," said Hall, who is also vice-principal at Chief Kahkewistahaw Community School. 

He said the plan is to try to get more kids into football and excited about sticking with it.

Another goal is to focus on younger students from grades 6 to 8 "to get them involved in tackle football so that when they get into high school, they've got a little bit of experience," Hall said.

2021 Unity Bowl

On Tuesday, the Buffalos played at Regina's 2021 Unity Ball, organized by the Sheldon Williams Collegiate Spartans.

"I was very proud of them and proud of the way they came out and played today," Hall said about the Buffalos athletes who played in the exhibition six-men football game.

"A lot of players came and went this season, and they were the ones that stuck it through and finished the season."

Lavallee, who has played volleyball, baseball and basketball before, said the season was fun and that he wants to continue playing football in the future.

"I've talked about it with my coaches, and I think it's a good opportunity," he said.

The Ochapowace-Kahkewistahaw-Cowessess Buffalos and the Sheldon Williams Collegiate Spartans played during the 2021 Unity Ball in Regina on Tuesday. (Dan Plaster/CBC)

Head coach sees potential

Xander Delorme, another player from Cowessess First Nation, was also on the field on Tuesday.

Unlike Lavallee, the Grade 11 student might have another chance of playing high school football with the Buffalos next year.

"I stayed because I wanted to play and my bro was playing too, so I was like, I might as well join," he said.

"Working as a team, it kind of got easier," Delorme said.

Hall said all of the First Nations chiefs involved have been very supportive of the joint football team, which trains at Kahkewistahaw First Nation. 

Hall hopes next year more fans will come and watch the team play.

"I see so much potential in them," Hall said. "The sky's really the limit."

With files from Dan Plaster

now