Raiders gearing up for 2018 season with new look

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When the Airdrie Raiders take to the field for the 2018 Calgary and Area Midget Football Association (CAMFA) season, it will have a new look after finalizing a sponsorship deal with Nike.

According to Raiders head coach Steve Kemp, having uniforms with Nike’s distinct look and identity will have the Airdrie squad looking sharp this season.

“It all started when we were in the market for new jerseys and we contacted (Nike) and inquired if this (sponsorship) would be a possibility,” Kemp said. “This is a huge step forward. Even compared to the rest of our rivals in the league, this is going to separate us and shows that (Nike) sees it as growth potential.

“There is nothing like this in the league and, as far as I know, nothing else in Airdrie yet.”

Kemp added the jerseys won’t be too far from what the team’s white uniforms were the past couple of years, but they will have the distinct look Nike has provided in college and professional football.

According to Kemp, the process of getting a sponsorship from Nike didn’t take long, with the initial connection being made in August 2017 and the deal finalized in October.

“Once we started contact with them, it all kind of fell into place,” Kemp said. “They were really easy to deal with.”

Kemp wouldn’t reveal the jersey’s new design, saying he wanted to keep it a surprise until they are ordered, but he said the coaching staff has been working hard to create the new look the Raiders will proudly wear for the next two seasons.

In addition to new jerseys, the team will be getting new pants, and socks and gloves will be available for players to order to complete the new look.

Dark jerseys will be made and ordered for the 2019 season, according to Kemp.

Players will also get a 15 per cent discount on Nike gear at Skyline Athletics in Calgary, where they can get new cleats and other equipment for the upcoming 2018 CAMFA season.

“We also end up getting money back at the end of the year when we hit certain thresholds,” Kemp said. “The more we spend, the more we get back.”

As the CAMFA season draws closer, the Raiders are already preparing for pre-season training, with registration open on the team’s website, airdriefootball.ca

The Raiders also have a pair of free indoor workouts scheduled for Jan. 12 and 17, where players will get the opportunity to work skills and get an introduction to the coaching staff for the 2018 season.

The Jan. 12 workout will be held at Good Shepherd School from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., and the Jan. 17 session will be at St. Martin de Porres High School from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Both sessions are free for midget-eligible players but require preregistration.

“At that point there is no financial commitment,” Kemp said of the workout sessions. “We just need your information so we can get you on the field and insured.”

The Raiders will officially kick off its 2018 preseason Jan. 26, when it holds its annual skills camp at Good Shepherd School. Players will take part in five practices during the weekend to get a better idea of what the season will bring.

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