Vernon to host university football game between UBC, Calgary

Two of Canada’s premier university football teams will be clashing in the Okanagan this summer.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the UBC Thunderbirds and Calgary Dinos will square off in the Kalamalka Bowl in Vernon.

Organizing the game was Sean Smith, head coach of the Vernon Secondary School Panthers, who says the idea is to help promote football in the North Okanagan.

“The idea was having an event that the community can get behind and support,” said Smith, who’s also president of the Kalamalka Bowl Society.

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The exhibition game will take place at Greater Vernon Athletics Park, the brightly lit sports field at the intersection of Highway 97 and College Way.

The neutral-site game will be part of a two-day event promoting football in the area, with a youth skills camp taking place on Tuesday afternoon at Polson Park. The Wednesday game will start at 7 p.m.

Asked how he managed to wrangle UBC and Calgary playing in the Okanagan, Smith said he learned the Dinos were thinking of playing a game in either Kelowna or Kamloops.

“Why don’t you play in Vernon?” queried Smith. “It’s halfway and we’ll do a good job of it and we’ll make it a community event.”

Smith says one of their goals is to ensure both teams “not only get good competition, but they have fun. We want some events for them, have dinner for them, all that kind of stuff.”

He also said the idea came to life two years ago, but that it was shelved because of COVID-19 in 2020 and the U-Sports not having any exhibition games last year.

“And three weeks ago, we got both teams to agree (to playing in Vernon),” said Smith.

Along with having a half-time show, Smith says he hopes to see a great atmosphere at the game.

“It’s not just two teams playing. We want to do it up professionally, have announcements, all that kind of stuff,” said Smith. “We hope the whole thing will draw people.”

Being a preseason game, it’s unknown how many Okanagan athletes will be in the game, but last year, UBC had four players from the region while Calgary had five.

Global News has reached out to UBC and Calgary for comment on the exhibition game.

On Saturday, Dinos head coach Wayne Harris said the team was pleased to be playing in the Okanagan this summer.

“We have several players on our team from Vernon and Kelowna and this is a great opportunity to give support back to the community,” said Harris.

“While this is an exhibition game and we are evaluating our players, it will be a highly competitive game as both teams are preparing for the 2022 season. I am sure it will be a very exciting game.”

For more information about the game, visit KalBowl.com.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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