Football Canada is proud to welcome the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) as an Associate Member.
The approval of the CJFL marks the fourth Associate Member to join Football Canada in the last year, joining the Canadian Football League, U SPORTS and the Canadian Football Officials Association.
“Football Canada is now the hub of communications for our national contact football organizations to connect, collaborate and partner with grassroots football across the country,” Football Canada President Jim Mullin said.
“Coming out of this pandemic, it is critical that all football organizations within Canada work together as one instead of against each other to get all of our teams and players back on the field safely,” added CJFL Commissioner Jim Pankovich. “I’m excited to be able to share best practices and ideas across the country to not only build our CJFL game, but football as a whole. This partnership with the other organizations will give more opportunities for young men and women to play this game.”
The alliance creates pathways for expanded work on CJFL teams to participate in developing the game at the community level with Football Canada programming like First Down and CFL Futures focused on participation for youth under-12. It is also a catalyst for discussion with the CFL and U SPORTS to align areas of operations and events.
“We have already started a dialogue between the partners about how we can work together as a football community to maximize our high-performance events and contribute to minor football, and the CJFL is at the centre of that discussion,” continued Mullin.
The CJFL’s membership in Football Canada was facilitated by the recent ratification of Ontario Football Conference (OFC) Juniors return to the Ontario Football Alliance (OFA), the responsible body for football’s governance in Ontario. The OFC is set to host the CJFL championship Canadian Bowl this November, showcasing the talent and level of enthusiasm for junior football in the province and across the country.
ABOUT FOOTBALL CANADA: Established in 1880 and reconstituted in 1884, Football Canada is the national governing body of amateur football in Canada and a proud member of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF). Working closely with the provincial football associations, we develop programs and resources for players, coaches, officials in the three disciplines of Tackle, Flag and Touch Football. Football Canada’s vision statement is “from playground to stadium” where players can participate in the game of football throughout a lifetime recreationally, competitively and internationally.
Photos courtesy of Joanna Kurowski Photography
The London Beefeaters have been a long standing franchise in the Canadian Junior Football League. They first joined the Ontario Conference (OFC) in 1975 when the Conference had three divisions and 14 teams. In that first season they finished with a 5-3-2 record and qualified for the post season, where they would fall in the quarterfinal. The very next year the Beefs finished on top of the Western Division and won their first playoff game.
Since entering the CJFL the Beefeaters seem to be always in the mix and pushing for a Conference title running stride for stride with perennial powerhouses the Hamilton Hurricanes and Windsor Fratmen. In their 38 playing seasons in the CJFL the Beefeaters have compiled a record of 141-191-2. On three different occasions they have missed a season(s) in the OFC; 1984, 1993-1995 and 1999-2000.
As the Beefeaters have changed and grown in the CJFL so have their home fields. They have had seven official homes since 1975 and most would argue their current home field is the best they have played at. For the last several years they have played at TD Stadium in London on the campus of Western University as they share the field with the Mustangs. They have also played at Labatt Park, Beck Secondary School, Montcalm Secondary School, JW Little Stadium, John Paul II Secondary School, Regina Mundi College and City-Wide Sportsfield.
Throughout their time in the CJFL the Beefeaters have finished first three times and have a pair of Conference titles. The first in 2012 and are currently the defending Ontario champs after winning the title in 2019, then hosted the National Semi-Final game. Oddly, their only two national game appearances have come against the Saskatoon Hilltops.
That 2019 title is arguably the greatest moment in Beefeaters history, winning the title on the road in Windsor against their bitter rival the Fratmen 28-20.
Over time there have been several talented players to come through the Beefeaters system including Tom Cudney (1976-1979) who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argos, Ian Sinclair (1979) who won a NCAA national championship with the Miami Hurricanes and a Grey Cup with the BC Lions and Shaq Johnson (2015) who currently plays for the Lions.
Two other Beefs’ alum have seen action with the Lions including Hakeem Johnson and Josh Woodman. Defensive back Tanner Gaskill-Cadwallader was selected by the Bombes in the 2020 CFL Draft.
Quick Beefeaters Facts:
Conference - Ontario Conference
Location – 100 Philip Aziz Ave, London, ON
Team President – Rob Annen
Head Coach – Gavin Lake (entering his first in 2021)
Stadium – TD Stadium
Social Handle - @LondonBeefeaters, @BeefeatersFtbl, @londonbeefeatersfootball
Motto – “Committed to Excellence”
Primary Colours – Blue / Red / White
Photo courtesy of Louis Christ Photography
CJFL Commissioner Jim Pankovich has demonstrated an incredible amount of leadership during the COVID-19 crisis and has been named the 2020 CJFL Stewart MacDonald Executive Of The Year.
Starting from the very early days of the pandemic, Jim had envisioned the difficult path that was before us and began to strategize and approach to deal with the situation.
Jim’s calm, cool, and measured approach kept the Canadian Junior Football League on track to making a difficult decision based on a tremendous amount of information from multiple sources. The outcome ultimately wound up being the best decision one could make for the safety and well being for the athletes, coaches and entire CJFL.
The Commissioner spent hundreds of hours, talking with experts, politicians, doctors, CFL football executives and a multitude of CJFL members throughout the country in the early stages of the pandemic. Jim had developed a primary plan as well as many multi leveled and layered contingency plans and was able to present these to stakeholders in a matter that had led to the consistent buy in and ownership of all the parties involved.
His in-depth analysis and planning put the CJFL in a place where the league moved methodically forward while maintaining an optimistic view for what was to come. Timelines were developed for primary and secondary strategies, input was requested and documented and thoroughly discussed with all the key stakeholders allowing for educated thought through debates and decisions.
Although the cancellation of the 2020 season and the Canadian Bowl was not the desire of anyone, when it came time to make that decision everyone was confident that the league had viewed and analyzed all angles and the best decision for the safety of the whole was made. Despite the gravity of this decision the CJFL holds the belief that we are still in a strong position to succeed going forward and faith or optimism has not been lost for future seasons. This was accomplished only because Jim’s complete dedication and commitment to ensure no stone was left unturned before a decision was made. His desire and professional, positive attitude was the glue that held the CJFL executive together throughout this challenging time.
The CJFL did not react hastily nor erratically when it came time to cancel the 2020 season. Jim epitomized the old-World War II mantra of “stay calm and carry on.”
Jim has won this award previously in 2015, and it is a testament to his extreme ability to lead our league that he is awarded the Executive Of The Year five years later. Many have discussed that with Jim Pankovich at the vanguard of this crisis, we were never in a position of defeat but in a position of growth and evolution of the game of junior football in Canada.