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Newfoundland and Labrador is now part of R Nation as fans of the Ottawa Redblacks

Ottawa Redblacks mascot Big Joe was an instant hit with the students at C. C. Loughlin during a visit from the CFL champions as part of the Grey Cup Tour in this province a week ago.
Ottawa Redblacks mascot Big Joe was an instant hit with the students at C. C. Loughlin during a visit from the CFL champions as part of the Grey Cup Tour in this province a week ago.

Newfoundland and Labrador is going to quickly become a part of R Nation.  

That’s how Chris Foley feels after spending a few days with the Ottawa Redblacks organization that carried out a Grey Cup Tour of the province earlier this month.

The Redblacks, the 2017 Canadian Football League champions, are owned by Stephenville native Jeff Hunt. Hunt wanted to bring the Grey Cup back to his roots so he organized a tour that saw him and star receivers Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson shake hands with folks in Corner Brook, Labrador and St. John’s.

Foley is the driving force behind establishing a youth tackle football program on the west coast of the province so having a guy like Hunt help promote the sport was much appreciated.

“They brought more exposure to what I’m trying to do in trying to get football started for kids here,” he said.

During the tour, children at C. C. Loughlin received a visit from the team and mascot Big Joe where Sinopoli and Ellingson gave a motivational speech that captivated a young audience with talk not so much about the game, but how it affects life and what can be learned from participation.

There was also an open afternoon session at the Studio where the Redblacks ran some drills for the children, signed some autographs and posed for photos with the Grey Cup.

Foley was impressed with how genuine all hands were, including sports broadcasting legend Brian Williams, who was along for the journey to do a live broadcast of Quarterback Club at Whelan’s Gate later in the day.

“These kids are holding dear to their hearts the fact that these players came here and spent time with them and they will remember that for years to come,” he said. “It was really motivational for the kids to see how to set goals for yourself and how to achieve them.”

Taking one a big challenge like starting a new sports program in a place where there’s never been a field goal kicked, Foley had no idea what the interest level would be, but he’s glad to have the support of the Redblacks.

Even better, he also has the support of Dalhousie Tigers men’s football coach Mark Haggett who has been a source of information and guidance for Foley.

Haggett was in Corner Brook on personal business Wednesday, but he had football on his mind when he contacted Foley on a whim to see if he could rustle up some bodies to go on the field for a mini football camp.

Foley managed to get 20 youth, and one of them was a girl so he was really pumped, to show up for the on-field session and it appeared everybody had a lot of fun and are excited about football becoming a reality on their doorstep.

It’s been a hectic grind to get things moving in the right direction, but Foley knows he’s doing something worth doing when he sees the smile on the face of those who want to be in the game.

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