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The Ontario Provincial Football League (OPFL) is proud to announce that it will be expanding its football footprint in Ontario for the 2021 season by welcoming 2 new franchises: one in the Toronto area and one in the Kawartha region. The addition of these new Clubs to one of the most reputable youth football organizations in province will contribute to the continued growth of the sport in both the elite and developmental pathways.
While this is the first team for Peterborough in the OPFL, the region is no stranger to youth football. The Otters squad was speculated to join the OPFL by fans and players for weeks now, and everyone in the community has been waiting for some news. Although rivals during high school football season, players Henry Walsh, a Senior Varsity quarterback at Norwood SS and Daniel Cannon a Junior Varsity Linebacker at Crestwood SS couldn’t be happier with the news and when asked why the Otters? Walsh said “I can’t wait to join the Peterborough Otters to further my knowledge as a quarterback, the Otters will give me the opportunity to play at a competitive level.” For the younger linebacker Cannon, “I am excited about the new opportunities this opens up for myself and my teammates to become better football players. This will be great for the future of football in Peterborough. I am joining the Otters to have a more competitive atmosphere and to help me develop my football skills more than ever thought possible.”
Within a month of the OPFL’s announcement of an Eastern Ontario expansion that confirmed the Ottawa Junior Gee-Gees as the newest Premier Club, Alexandra Reyes-Walsh, Chair of the OPFL Expansion Committee says “We couldn’t be happier to see clubs step up to offer opportunities for local kids to develop their skills and have that stepping stone when they're ready to move on to the next level, especially in eastern Ontario where the OPFL is under represented."
Leading the Peterborough Otters and Kawartha Football is its President, Sidney Parkes. “Having a club in the Ontario Provincial Football League will only grow our game in the Kawartha region as well as the eastern portion of the province. This is what our local athletes deserve in their athletic development, and so pursuing the OPFL route was an easy decision to make and we are thankful to the OPFL offering us these opportunities.” Says Parkes. The Peterborough Otters also said players, families and fans won’t have to wait long to find out what the team has in store for their 2021 debut. “Some of this will be announced and unveiled in the upcoming weeks. The rest will align with the League’s schedule of announcements.” said Parkes. The brand-new Peterborough squad will take up home residence at Holy Cross Turf Field.
The Etobicoke Eagles Football Club has been in the Toronto for 20 years now and the 2021 OPFL Edition of the Eagles will be competing at the Bantam, Junior and Varsity levels with their home games being played at the Centennial Park stadium. “We are very excited for the opportunity to work together with the other clubs to contribute to the growth of Canadian football.” said Chivase Bryan, President of Etobicoke Eagles. The mission of the Etobicoke Eagles Minor Football Club has always been to break down barriers to participation and provide opportunities for the youth of Etobicoke to pursue their dreams through the sport of football. Very much committed to their vision of participation and development, introducing the sport of football to new participants, and building an organizational structure of excellence supported by the pillars of integrity and positive peer culture Chivase went on to say “We have always wanted to have a presence in the OPFL. We have had many discussions over the years as to what this would look like and we feel the time is right to make this move. We are committed to providing opportunities to players of all ages and abilities and firmly believe this will have a profound impact in our football community.” As the second oldest football club in the City of Toronto, the Eagles we have a long history of sending their players on to play football at the post-secondary level and professionally as well. In the ever-changing landscape of football in the GTA, the Eagles stand out from the rest is their community and family feel. With 80% of their coaches and volunteers being former players, it allows the Eagles to provide a unique family feel and share experiences with thier players.
With 28 Clubs and 73 teams, OPFL President Terry Barkley stated, “The momentum and success of our league over the past few years is a direct result of the strength of our Club Centers and the new year will have many key initiatives that we will implement to broaden the exposure, reach and success of our league. With the impressive accomplishments and efforts of our members in building their brands and fan base in their communities, the time was appropriate for our league to continue its expansion strategy and add two additional clubs to our league to continue our vision plan for a tiered environment for the development of football in Ontario”
Although the 2020 season came to a complete halt as a result of covid-19 and how it has impacted our lives in ways we never could have imagined, the OPFL has remained committed to the development of youth football and is looking at all possible options for its members going into 2021.