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.
The Westshore Rebels became a member of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) in the BC Conference in 1985 following three consecutive Tier II championships from 1982-1984 as the Victoria Hornets.
The Rebels in the past 35 seasons have gone through a couple of different identities in their franchise history. Once becoming a full member of the CJFL the Hornets became the Victoria Payless from 1985-1993 after being sponsored by Payless Gas Company. In their nine seasons as Payless, they would finish with an overall record of 30-45-1 qualifying for the post season six times but didn’t win a game.
In 1994, the new season came with a new name. The sponsorship of Payless was not renewed so the club changed their name to the Vancouver Island Sharks. In their four seasons the club finished with a dismal 6-34 record and 0-2 in the playoffs.
The ’98 season brought on another new name change as the Victoria Rebels were born. Playing out of Royal Athletic Park the new Rebels brand immediately brought on a winning season. They finished 6-4 but lost in the BC semi-final. Overall they would play 13 seasons in Victoria compiling a 74-52-4 regular season record, making the playoffs 10 times. Unfortunately for the Rebels they were 6-11 in the playoffs and 1-4 in the BC Cullen Cup final. That one BC title however propelled them to their first Canadian Bowl appearance in 2003. They ran into an undefeated Saskatoon Hilltop juggernaut that averaged over 39 points a game and a defence that allowed just 11 points. The CJFL title game was played on a neutral field in Chilliwack and the Hilltops shutout the Rebels 59-0.
Following the 2010 season the Rebels once again packed up and moved. This time they made their new home in Langford, a suburb of Victoria and became known as the Westshore Rebels. They were fortunate to move into the new Westhills Stadium which welcomed them with open arms.
Since this most recent move the Rebels have played nine seasons in Langford combining for a 46-43-2 regular season record. They also hosted their first Canadian Bowl in 2016 after a first place finish. They again faced the Hilltops and though it was a better game, the Hilltops still got the best of the Rebels with a 37-25 win.
Throughout the team’s history they have finished in first place in the BC Conference twice; in 2016 and 2017 and have appeared in two Canadian Bowls. In their 35 year history they have won two Cullen Cup titles and have a 155-173-7 overall record. Three players have been named the CJFL Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year; Simon Beckow (WR/R) in 1992, Nate Cote (QB) in 2007 and Jamal Lyles (RB) in 2016. On the other side of the ball four players have been named the League’s Top Defender; Ian Gordon (DE) in 1987, Troy Francis (DB) in 1990, Scott Gilbert (LB) in 1999 and Mike Kissinger (LB) in 2000.
Alums who have played in the CFL
Bill Chamberlain (also Calgary)
Moe Elewonibi (also Winnipeg, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Club)
Scott Mennie (also Winnipeg)
Quick Rebels Facts:
Conference – BC Conference
Location – 1089 Langford Pkwy, Victoria
President – Rob Lervold
Head Coach – Shane Beatty
Stadium – Westhills Stadium
Social Handle - @westshorerebels
Motto –Westshore Boomin’
Primary Colours – Red and 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.