Don Williams knows football has been played in Prince George for more than 40 years.
But as far back as the president of the Prince George Minor Football Association can dig into the archives, his league has its origins in 1974.
That would make this the 40th anniversary of the league, and that's worth celebrating.
So on Saturday, Sept. 7, the PGMFA and the Northern Conference high school league are joining forces for a one-day football showcase at Masich Place Stadium.
"Basically it's a day to celebrate football in Prince George," said Williams.
"We'll have all sorts of minor football games, two high school games, and we'll recognize some of our alumni who have gone to CFL or coaching other teams."
From 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., the stadium turf will be getting cultivated by cleats as the region's minor and high school teams meet for the start of their respective seasons.
The atoms kick the Sept. 7 festivities off at 8 a.m. with the first game of the day between Prince George White and Prince George Purple, followed by opening ceremonies at 9 a.m., the Quesnel-Prince George Black atom game at 9:15 a.m. and the Vanderhoof-Prince George Yellow atom matchup at 10:15 a.m.
Then it's the peewee and junior bantam divisions turns to take the field, followed by two high school games. At 5 p.m., the Correlieu Clan of Quesnel will play the Duchess Park Condors, while at 7 p.m. the Kelly Road Roadrunners take on the Prince George Polars.
While the games are being played there will be activities on the sidelines for the kids, facepainting, a concession, and a ceremony to recognize players who have gone on to higher levels of football elsewhere.
The accomplishments of the city's first juvenile team, the Prince George Northern Eagles, a team of 17-19-year-olds which played in the B.C. Football Conference's tier 2 division, will also be highlighted. The Eagles, a prep team for college and junior players, finished their inaugural spring season in May with a 1-5 record.
Organizers of the Sept. 7 event had hoped to have an alumni game made up of players who have gone on to the CFL, university or junior football but Williams said there wasn't time to work them into the one-day schedule.
"Our football program has grown so much, we couldn't find a spot to fit it in," said Williams. "It's more important to have the kids playing as opposed to a bunch of old guys."
This season the PGMFA has six atom teams (6-9-year-olds), three peewee teams (10-11-year-olds) and three junior bantam teams (12-and-13-year-olds). Quesnel is back in the minor football game this year, entering teams in the atom and peewee divisions, while Vanderhoof once again has atom, peewee and junior bantam teams.
"We have a six-team atom division this year, which is two more teams than we had last year, they're the future," Williams said. "There are no fees for first year atoms and I think that's really helping. It lets someone try the sport without a financial commitment. Once those kids try it, if you love football you're in and you're hooked and you don't stop."
The high school league takes on the older players, with five teams this year in junior varsity (Grades 8, 9 and 10) and six in the varsity (Grades 11 and 12) division. Williams is head coach of the PGSS Polars.
Back in Williams minor football days, from 1985-90, there was no high school football in Prince George, but minor football in Prince George and Quesnel included bantam and midget divisions, which kept the older players involved.
n Duchess Park's varsity Condors will play host to the John Barsby Bulldogs of Vancouver in an exhibition game this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Masich Place Stadium. Coached by Mike Rositano, the Condors squad includes several players from last year junior varsity team which won the Northern Conference title. The Condors will visit Abbotsford for an exhibition game Sept. 13 against the Robert Bateman Timberwolves.
n This year's P.G. Bowl city high school championship will be played Saturday, Oct. 26 at Masich Place Stadium.