Bob Schmidt wouldn’t let anything deter him from playing in the Red River Cup this weekend.
The 15-year-old Brandonite initially planned to play for Team Westman, but it folded and he was forced to find another way to participate in the under-16 football tournament, which features teams from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. So Schmidt went to Winnipeg to try out and on Sunday he’ll run onto Investors Group Field in Winnipeg as an outside linebacker with Manitoba Gold.
It’s taken a lot of work and commitment to stay on the team with practices in Winnipeg, but Schmidt, the lone Brandonite to play in the Red River Cup, has enjoyed every minute of it.
"It’s incredible," he said. "I can’t believe the kind of talent they have out here. It will be really fun going into the Red River Cup and representing my program. I’m really glad I made the team."
Schmidt, who’s 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds, comes from a football family. His older brother played on Vincent Massey’s varsity team last season, his sister played minor football, and he quarterbacked the defence of Massey’s JV team last high school season as middle linebacker.
Schmidt felt he was a solid player before this spring, but after spending the last couple months on Manitoba Gold, he feels like he’s a lot better.
"I definitely gained a lot of tips," he said. "The coaching staff is exquisite, the best from all the programs here in Manitoba, and I’m very glad I had an opportunity to learn from these guys. I was an all right player before I came here, but I really learned what being an outside linebacker is like and what I should be doing."
The Red River Cup is a short event with Manitoba Gold playing a pair of mini-games with 25 minutes halves of running time on Sunday and then two more on Wednesday. The top teams from each pool will meet for the championship on Saturday, July 12, while the second-place teams will play for bronze.
Schmidt is excited to start the tournament and play on the Investors Group Field turf for the first time. He also feels his squad has a chance to make some noise in the event.
"We’re going to try to take on the opponents we have," he said. "It’s going to be difficult since there’s a lot of great teams out there. Our goal is to take it one game at a time and try to make it to the final game. I feel if all of us work together then we’ll have a great chance at winning this."