Twelve of the fifteen players of the Université de Montréal flag football team are part of the national team, Team Canada, the highest recognition in this discipline. But the university does not provide them with lockers, changing rooms or training grounds.
The flag football team failed to carve out a place as the Carabins. Considered a sports club within the university, the flag football team of the University of Montreal (UdeM) does not benefit from any privileges granted to Carabins football players.
Sports medicine, equipment, court rental… All of the responsibilities associated with the practice of sport rest on the shoulders of the players.
“If we were part of the Carabins, we would be entitled to school exemptions for our tournaments, we could take fewer courses per session, have access to consultations in sports medicine and have equipment to practice our sport”, explains Clara Beaudoin, receiver for the UdeM team, in an interview with La Presse.
Currently, 80% of UdeM players are part of Team Canada, a status that gives them the chance to compete internationally to represent the maple leaf. However, the 12 players in question cannot join the International Carabins program, which oversees and supports top athletes abroad.
“If the athlete is of international caliber, that she is recognized in the federation and that she performs, she can integrate the International Carabins program”, explains the director general of the CEPSUM and sports of excellence at the University. of Montreal, Manon Simard.
Ms. Simard specifies, however, that it is impossible to grant this status to several members of the same team.
The player, treasurer and acting president of the team, Noémie Olmand, replies that the players need a status from the university.
However, two players from the team managed to obtain this title when they played internationally last year.
UdeM players are not the only ones leading this fight. Women’s flag football teams at Concordia University, Université de Trois-Rivières, Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval and Université du Québec en Outaouais suffer from the same problem. Only the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) recognizes its women’s flag football team as a “sports team of excellence”.
The general manager of the Football Quebec federation, Steve Duchesneau, specifies that, contrary to the statements of Ms. Simard, the federation recognizes this sport. “Flag football is not recognized as a sport of excellence by the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sport since it is not an Olympic discipline. »
The players of the UdeM team are sorry that their opponents are in the same boat as them.
“Despite our own recognition issues, we care about those of our rivals,” says Clara Beaudoin.
The head coach of the UdeM flag football club, Alexandre Desjardins, denounces the cumbersomeness of the process. “League members no longer know who to ask for follow-ups. »
“Until the sport is recognized by the federation, it will be difficult for the remaining six teams to make things happen,” says Alexandre Desjardins.
Flag football has 12,500 players at school level, according to the census of the Réseau des sports du Québec (RSEQ).
Faced with this lack of resources, UdeM players must turn to donors in order to lighten the financial burden of the team. This research is not without obstacles.
“We are not allowed to have sponsors who may conflict with those of the Carabins. In addition, we are not allowed to advertise them, which makes the task of finding sponsors almost impossible”, explains Noémie Olmand.
Last March, the family of one of the UdeM players donated a few thousand dollars to the team to reduce the costs imposed on the athletes. To their surprise, a pin was sent to him, accompanied by a letter of thanks and a poster in the colors of the Carabins, although the team did not manage to integrate the prestigious organization.
“Since we are not funded like the Carabins teams, we are asking for donations. But when our donors make a donation, they receive thanks from the Carabins organization. It’s humiliating, embarrassing and frustrating,” said team treasurer Noémie Olmand.