On Jan. 5, the Transcona Nationals football club posted a GoFundMe page in an attempt to receive enough donations to save the club. The club’s goal was to raise $40,000, but so far they’ve only been able to raise $1,200 through the site. Russ Wyatt, city councillor for Transcona, was able to support the Nationals, giving them a total of $11,200. The help from Wyatt doesn’t get the community club out of trouble, but it gives them breathing room to stay in possession of the club house, and come up with various plans to raise the remaining funds.
“In the last two weeks, [Wyatt] has taken a huge weight off of my shoulders,” Transcona Nationals club president Krista Ducharme said. “It lets us think of how are we to get out of here, and start building.”
Ducharme and the rest of the club volunteers will be holding a number of fundraisers to help the club as well, the first of which will be a benefit concert held on Feb. 19, at Nashville’s Canad Inns Transcona. Headliners of the event will include speaking from former Nationals coach Derrick Gottfried and music performances from band members from Harlequin and Doc Walker; Philly from Power 97 will also be the MC for the night. Tickets for the event are being sold for $15, but the club will accept any and all donations.
The Transcona Nationals, who have now been fielding young football players for 105 years, are the longest running football club in Manitoba. The club, like a lot of other community club sports, helps kids build teamwork skills, teaches players how to win and lose, and creates long-lasting friendships.
“The teamwork, the responsibility, and the family orientation that’s there is just different than any other sport,” Ducharme said. “Once a National, always a National.”
The club has produced a number of Manitoba Bisons football players. One of the club’s recent success stories is Bison second-year offensive lineman Zack Williams.
“He came through our program, played for Murdoch, played for the Riffles, and now plays for the Bisons,” Ducharme said. “He’s played for Team Canada two years in a row, and he won gold this year with them.”
The club will also be expanding from their minor (age 7-14), and major men’s football teams (18-22) by adding flag football teams and a girl’s tackle football team in the upcoming spring. Adding a girls’ team will open the door for a whole other community of football lovers; they have even branched out of the football community, as they are bringing rugby to the club as well. Ducharme said the club is hoping all of the new initiatives will help to bring more profit to the club and community.
With the number of kids signing up for football shrinking, other clubs in the city have rallied to help save the Nationals.
“There’s lots of support,” Ducharme said. “I have had the Mustangs approach us and say they want to help out as much as they can, all the clubs are helping out, and people are coming up and asking what they can do to help.”