It was a very special summer for two University of Manitoba Bison football players.
From June 29 until July 17, second-year defensive back Jayden McKoy and first-year receiver Trysten Dyce had the opportunity to represent Team Canada at the 2014 International Federation of American Football U19 World Championship. The 45-man roster was chosen from a pool of 93 players.
Dyce said the practice schedule was intense.
“We started practising from six until 10 every night, so we had a four-hour practice cut up into two. It was really tough, actually.”
The training camp for Team Canada occurred from June 29 to July 4 in Italy.
Once the team finished camp, they flew directly to Kuwait, where the tournament was hosted, beginning on July 5. Canada played in a division with three other teams: Kuwait, France, and Austria.
While Team Canada outscored their divisional opponents 183-7, McKoy still felt that there was a fair amount of competitiveness, and was excited to see football gaining momentum in other countries.
“The guys we went up against knew what they were doing, they knew how to play football,” said McKoy.
“It was cool just to see that countries like France and Austria have been playing football, and that it’s developing across the world.”
After winning their division, Canada advanced directly to the gold medal game, where they fell 40-17 to their rivals from the United States. Despite the loss, McKoy felt that Canada is closing the gap between the two countries.
“Against the U.S., everyone hypes them up so much, but we kind of felt that we belonged,” said McKoy. “I don’t think the score really showed the difference in level of competition.”
Despite the loss in the gold medal game, both Dyce and McKoy enjoyed the experience as a whole.
Dyce said Kuwait did a great job of hosting the event.
“One of the princes of Kuwait was there to greet us when we landed, and he was at every game. He seemed to support [football] a lot,” said Dyce.
For McKoy, the World Championship gave him the chance to hone his skills as a defensive back. The second-year player said he had previously played safety in high school, but didn’t get the opportunity to broaden his skills at the other positions in the secondary.
“It was good to be able to play four games just playing DB, getting kind of used to it, because it wasn’t something that I really did back in high school.”
Due to the World Championship taking place in June and July, the two Winnipeg natives also got the opportunity to hone their skills before main camp with the Bisons started.
“To be able to play football, it was the first time playing in six months,” said McKoy.
“Not everyone gets the opportunity to play that much football during the off-season, so it was good to be able to bring that back.”