Sherby, the underdogs

The Sherbrooke Vert et Or have always sort of intrigued me. After all, here's a smallish school with a midsized population base that is taking the Laval Rouge et Or model and attempting to use it to create another francophone football dynasty in CIS.

Can that be done? How beneficial is the privatized model? And is the real crux of the Rouge et Or's success that model, the city or the money?

Here's a look at this week's CIS article at The Globe on Sherbrooke — with more thoughts to come.

UPDATE The Vert et Or's new head coach is Andre Bolduc, a former CFL slotback who was an assistant coach with the Montreal Carabins when they were formed back in 2002 before going on to a successful stint in CEGEP as a head coach.

It was interesting talking to Bolduc about the rise of francophone football, especially as it relates to the creation of three schools at French-language universities (Laval, Montreal and Sherbrooke).

He said when he was coming out of CEGEP, where he played with powerhouse Victoriaville, his options were limited: Play for Concordia or Bishop's, or look at an offer with Western. Going to McGill wasn't in the cards due to academics required to get in, so Bolduc headed for Concordia, where he had a pretty successful stint that turned into a pro career.

Now, he says, francophone footballers have plenty of options.

"There’s so many good programs, good schools, they have so many to choose from," Bolduc said. "And when the football season starts, it’s serious business around here."

The coach added that he felt the sudden interest in football was a result of a shift at the grassroots level away from hockey, where crazed parents in the stands had become a problem in the province. One of the reasons football caught on with parents was that you were outside, Bolduc said, playing a strategic sport that came without the fanaticism of Canada's game.

What was once seen as an "English sport" was suddenly all over French Quebec, something Bolduc says has continued as new high-level CEGEP programs continue to sprout up across the province.

As for his first stint as head coach, he seems confident the Vert et Or are headed for a spot in the first tier of the Quebec Conference. He also mentioned that his ties to the Carabins really helped in luring coaches David Lessard (offensive coordinator) and Jean-Vincent Posy-Audette (defensive backs and special teams) from Sherbrooke's big-city rival.

I also spoke with Sherbrooke's athletic director, Christian Gagnon, who played up the top notch facilities and environs at the school. I've never been to the area, but I hear it's quite beautiful, and the Vert et Or are now the "big team" in town — especially given the major junior hockey Castors left for Lewiston in 2003. The 8,400 fans they had show up to Saturday's opener is nothing to sniff at, and if they continue to get a full house, the Laval Jr. moniker certainly fits.

What's going to be interesting is if they can compete over the next few years with the Rouge et Or, who are really starting to take roost as the No. 1 team in the country. Bolduc and Gagnon said that was their goal.
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1 comment:

  1. Should be noted -- Bishop's and Sherbrooke staggered their kickoff times for Sept. 29 and Oct. 6 to create doubleheaders.... very smart to give people a chance to attend both games.

    Hopefully it doesn't lead to something like last Saturday in Waterloo when the Warriors had an announced crowd of 300 and the Golden Hawks had at least 10 times that.