March 2, 2017

Bombers and WPA team up to host inner city after-school flag football program

Shawn Gallant knows what it looks and feels like to be headed down the wrong path as a kid. And he’s also living proof of how powerful a role mentor or two can be in helping steer someone in the right direction.

That’s why Gallant – a former member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who has been a constable locally for the last six years – is so eager to be part with the Winnipeg Police Association’s involvement with the Winnipeg Youth Football Club.

“As soon as I heard we were going to be involved with kids I was all over it and pushed hard for it,” said Gallant, who did two tours with the Bombers (2005-06; 2009-10) over an 11-year Canadian Football League career.

Calgary Stampeders' Nikolas Lewis (82) gets a touchdown as he collides with Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Shawn Gallant (22) during the second half CFL action in Winnipeg, on Sunday, August 30, 2005. (CP PHOTO/Marianne Helm)

“I tell everybody something like this is the reason I became a cop in the first place. When I was with the Bombers there were guys like Cvety (Chris Cvetkovic) who were involved with kids and the community and I liked doing that stuff. But when I was younger I started hanging with the wrong crowd and I had a couple of guys – my high school coach John Zucchet and a cop named Mike McKenzie – who steered all of us the right way.

“When I was playing football, I’d go back and help kids train and now that I’m a cop, I get to do the same thing,” added Gallant.

“You know, I can arrest 800 people and they’re going to be back on the street the next day. But when you get to work with kids, that’s when you get to know them and can make a difference.”

“I really believe that in order to make a difference you need to be involved with kids when they’re young. Something like this is the best way to do it.”

The Blue Bombers and the police announced today that the Winnipeg Police Association is now the presenting partner of the Winnipeg Youth Football Club (WYFC). A flag football program for youth in the city’s core area each winter for the last four years, the WYFC is operated by the Bombers as part of their Blue Bombers Futures program and runs along with the help of the Spence Neighbourhood Association.

The WYFC sees more than 200 kids from 12 different schools and organizations receive certified coaching, a dinner, T-shirts and transportation to and from the club, held at the University of Winnipeg Axworthy Health and Recplex.


Gallant and Errol Brown, another former Bomber-turned-police officer, will be involved along with former university and junior football players and current Bombers like Maurice Leggett.

“I just enjoy putting smiles on kids’ faces. They keep me youthful,” Leggett said. “With me growing up in a rough area (in McKeesport, Pennsylvania) I wasn’t fortunate enough to have players who everyone looked up to come back to our neighbourhood and do stuff like this. It’s a passion of mine and I’ve made it a point to give back to the community.

“Some of these kids might be going through some trouble or struggling and it can be something as simple as talking to a kid that can help them make an adjustment in their lives.”

“They might be going down a wrong path or thinking about it and along comes a player who might be able to help change their life.”

“It brightens up our lives, too. I think you stay youthful being around kids having fun and laughing constantly. “