It was a fun-filled day for nine-year-old Arianna Belanger, who was eager to add a new skill to her resume.

“Like how to throw a ball,” she said.

The Ottawa Redblacks fan has never played football, but mom Chrysteann Munroe jumped at the chance for her daughter to learn on the same field as her favourite team.

Skills and Drills

“I figured it was a great way to start and build confidence,” said Munroe. “People perceive football as a male sport and I wanted her to see that she can do it.”

Belanger took part in the second annual Skills and Drills Day at TD Place, an initiative by the Ed Laverty Legacy Sports Fund.

“My father ran the Ottawa Nepean Touch Football League for fifty years,” said Tammy Laverty Hall. “(He was an) Ottawa Sports Hall of Famer.”

After losing her father to Alzheimer’s Disease in 2018, Laverty Hall established the sport fund, carrying on his legacy helping youth through sport.

“He wanted students, women, men to learn the game he loved and have the opportunity to learn the team camaraderie.”

More than 125 kids registered for the event, ranging in age from six to 18, ready to build and strengthen their fundamental football skills.

“I’m a quarterback and I want to work on accuracy and throw power,” said Will Dawson.

Ten skill stations were spaced out on the field, led by former pro and amateur athletes, including Redblacks players.

“Organization discipline… there’s so much good values you can learn on the football field,” said Redblacks defensive back Antoine Pruneau.

Meanwhile, from the sidelines, Belanger’s mom was beaming as she watched her daughter Arianna tackle a new challenge and see her confidence grow.

“I want to try new stuff,” said Belanger. “I’m never going to give up.”