COLD LAKE – The Cold Lake Fighter Jets are getting ready to kick-off their 2021 season.
The team is currently in the process of getting everything ready behind the scenes in hopes of being able to hit the field in July, stated team vice-president and general manager Damen Schaub.
“Everything’s kind of pending COVID-19 restrictions right now,” Schaub told Lakeland This Week. “June 1 is the league's line in the sand. It's drawn in regards to when we’re going to call it on whether or not we're going to play depending on what the restrictions are.”
The Fighter Jets home opener is scheduled for July 10 against the Fort McMurray Monarchs.
They will have two more home games, one against the Calgary Wolfpack on Aug. 7, and another on Aug. 28, when they’ll go up against the Airdrie Irish. Their matchup against Ardirie will be their last of the season.
Their three away games are set for July 17 against the Peace County Cowboys, Aug. 14 where they face-off against the Edmonton Elite, and a game against the Central Alberta Bucs on Aug. 21.
All of these games are dependent on the COVID-19 health orders in place and whether or not the Alberta Football League (AFL) decides to go ahead with the 2021 season.
If everything goes according to plans, this will be the first time the Fighter Jets lace up their cleats since the 2019 season, as games in 2020 were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The boys are really interested in getting back out there,” Schaub noted. “I think all of them miss having this in their lives more than they realized now that they’ve been off for 18 months or so.”
The Fighter Jets shouldn’t have a problem following any protocols required by the province, Schaub stated. He doesn’t see social distancing fans being an issue either due to the size of Thomas Varughese Memorial Field, which is located behind the Energy Centre
Schaub said the team has heard from players in other provinces who’ve shown interest in coming to play for the Cold Lake team.
“Hopefully, we can put it all on paper and make a run at another championship here and finish off where we left off in 2019. Finish the season where we want to finish it.”
The Fighter Jets’ inaugural year ended before they could win the gold like they were hoping.
The AFL announced on Aug. 15, 2019 that the Cold Lake football team wouldn’t be competing in the upcoming playoffs because they were found to have broken league rules when one player had given financial assistance to two others to help pay for their flights to Alberta.
Although the Fighter Jets fought the decision, it was ultimately upheld and they weren’t permitted to compete in the championship.
With the difficult end to their 2019 season, and their 2020 season cancelled altogether, the team is ready to head back onto the field and to play in front of their fans.
“Over the last year and change we, as an organization, witnessed the Lakeland’s resilience and cooperation to come together among businesses and the community in full force to help keep positive and afloat. We are extremely proud to be in such a great area of Alberta, we approach the 2021 season with optimism and are planning for the safe return to the gridiron to finish where we left off in 2019,” Schaub said in a statement.