Okanagan city to host Canadian university football exhibition game

UBC Thunderbirds will play the Calgary Dinos Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park

The UBC Thunderbirds and University of Calgary Dinos will play in the first Kalamalka Bowl Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. The Canadian U-SPORTS Canada West Football Conference pre-season game will be the first of its kind to be played in Greater Vernon. (kalbowl.com)

The UBC Thunderbirds and University of Calgary Dinos will play in the first Kalamalka Bowl Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. The Canadian U-SPORTS Canada West Football Conference pre-season game will be the first of its kind to be played in Greater Vernon. (kalbowl.com)

Canada’s highest level of amateur football is coming to the North Okanagan.

The newly formed Kalamalka Bowl Society in Vernon has confirmed the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds will take on the University of Calgary Dinos Wednesday, Aug. 24, in a pre-season contest to be played at Greater Vernon Athletic Park.

Kick-off will be 7 p.m.

The two Canada West Conference rivals will play in what’s being called the Kalamalka Bowl.

“This will be the first university football game ever hosted in the North Okanagan,” said society member Sean Smith, head coach of the Vernon Secondary School Panthers.

Both teams will have players on their rosters who grew up and played high school or minor football in the Okanagan.

Five former Panthers are slated to suit up for Calgary: fifth-year defensive end Josh Hyer, a trio of sophomores – linebacker Liam Reid, centre Brady Szeman and receiver Zack Smith – as well as rookie receiver Roan Reid.

The Thunderbirds’ local flavour will feature third-year linebacker Brad Hladik.

“I think this is a tremendous chance to showcase our football to fans in the Okanagan,” said UBC head coach Blake Nill. “It’s a game featuring the last two Canada West teams to win the Vanier Cup (national championship). It’s a big rivalry.”

The T-Birds won the Vanier in 2015 and the Dinos in 2019.

“We’re very excited to come to the Interior and to Vernon,” said Dinos head coach Wayne Harris. “There’s a number of players from Vernon and Kelowna who have done very well, and to bring these guys home to play in front of family and friends is going to be special. It will be a good show and I’m looking forward to it.”

The game is the culmination of what will be a two-day event to promote football in the North Okanagan.

A youth football skills camp will be held the day prior, Tuesday, Aug. 23, from 4 to 6 p.m. at GVAP with both teams taking part.

The camp will be open to players 13 and under from Vernon and neighbouring minor football organizations. Camp attendees will be given a ticket to the game as part of the camp cost.

Camp registration is through Vernon Minor Football. A camp link will be on their website VDMFA.com and the society’s website, kalbowl.com, once details have been ironed out.

Ticket sales have been set up on Eventbrite and will go on sale this Thursday, June 16th. A link has been set up on kalbowl.com that will direct traffic for sales to Eventbrite.

Tickets will be $22 for bleacher seating, $12 for standing room.

Seating is limited so those who prefer to sit for the game should get tickets sooner than later.

“The Greater Vernon Athletic Park was built almost 10 years ago and has yet to host an event of this magnitude,” said Malcolm Reid from the society. “We are projecting that the Kalamalka Bowl will attract significant community attention and energy in August 2022 and in the years to come.

“Our aim is to promote and organize amateur/minor football and develop the highest possible standard of sportsmanship and citizenship for youth participating in the game. Maintaining and increasing the interest in football and to help support other existing associations/groups and programs.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available, including the title sponsor for the Kalamalka Bowl.

For more information on sponsorships, please call Reid at 250-549-6954.

All financial sponsorship will receive a tax receipt.

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The UBC Thunderbirds (white) will play the Calgary Dinos (red) in the first Canadian U-Sports football game to be held in the North Okanagan. The Kalamalka Bowl, as the pre-season game is being billed, will be played Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Rich Lam - UBC Athletics)

The UBC Thunderbirds (white) will play the Calgary Dinos (red) in the first Canadian U-Sports football game to be held in the North Okanagan. The Kalamalka Bowl, as the pre-season game is being billed, will be played Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Rich Lam - UBC Athletics)