Football Toronto officials Hoping to improve gridiron game in country’s largest city
By Sam Laskaris
There’s strength in numbers.
That’s the thinking of representatives who have launched a new non-profit organization called
This new initiative, supported by various high school coaches and those with community
programs, was started because of a disappointing trend.
“Football as a whole in Toronto sure saw a decline over COVID and we’re quite fearful that a lot
of programs aren’t going to be coming back next year,” said George Gretes, the head coach of
the history-rich Northern Red Knights and one of the key organizers of Football Toronto. “So,
the community itself is coming together to tackle some larger concerns around tackle football
Gretes said talk about the Football Toronto concept began earlier this year.
“It was a conversation between myself and the Western Tech head coach Russ Hoff about how
we needed to come together as a community or the game of football is going to die, in high
school specifically,” Gretes said. “And then a number of us just started connecting with each
Some informal meetings started being held this past February. And that lead to Spring Football
Summit 2022, held on Apr. 30 at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre.
A dozen individuals attended this session. They were representing various high schools across
the city as well as three community programs - Toronto Jr. Argos, Etobicoke Eagles and
At the summit Football Toronto reps decided to focus on three main initiatives.
For starters, they are hoping to move towards one single high school league in Toronto by 2023,
involving public (Toronto District School Board), Catholic and Independent school teams.
“That would be the first time, from what we can tell, that’s ever happened in Ontario,” he said.
Gretes added league officials are hoping to emulate high school football in British Columbia,
which has one circuit involving squads throughout the province.
“There will be some challenges that we have to work through,” Gretes reasoned. “But I think
fundamentally there’s a belief that by working together and having a single league and creating
a competitive league, we can save football that way.”
As for the 2022 season, Gretes said leagues have already made some plans so it would not be
feasible to have one giant loop by this fall.
Thus, the goal to work towards one league by 2023.
“There’s a lot of conversations that have to happen still,” Gretes said. “Is the TDSB
comfortable? Is the Catholic league comfortable? What do they need to make this happen?”
Another initiative Football Toronto reps are eager to work on is eliminating barriers that
programs face in attracting coaches.
“What we’re going to do as a group is work with the districts and the different school boards
and create a certification program,” Gretes said.
The goal is to remove administrative burdens from school officials in vetting potential coaches.
“We’ve taken it on as a group and they have trust that we have everything in place,” Gretes
And the third initiative Football Toronto organizers will focus on is a new website
“That’s a big project we’re taking on right now,” Gretes said, adding a goal is to have all
centralized information in one portal.
The plan for the website is to include profiles of teams and players as well as scores and
Football Toronto organizers are planning to meet roughly once per month. Gretes is also keen
to start various sub-committees, including a fundraising one and an awards one.