Team Canada gears up for Flag Football Worlds in Panama

Team Canada will be heading to the Flag Football World Championships in Panama in August. Lyle Evanisky (back row on the left) is an assistant coach with the team

When you think playoff football in Saskatchewan, odds are you’re picturing sub-zero temperatures, propane heaters near the sideline benches, and guys with shovels clearing the snow off the field a half-hour before game time.
But when it comes to the Flag Football World Championship, it’s a whole different ball game.
Canada’s national senior men’s flag football team will be taking on the world in Panama August 11-14.
And with the vast majority of players and coaches on the national team hailing from the Saskatoon area, they’ll have to adapt quickly to hot, humid conditions in the tiny Central American country.
“We’ll be going down there a week ahead of the tournament in order to get acclimatized,” said Lyle Evanisky, who will be sharing assistant coaching duties for Team Canada along with Brian Guebert. “The average temperature at that time of year in Panama is about 33 degrees.
“But hey, it gets hot up here too.”
Two years ago, Evanisky, who coaches the Martensville High School Royals football team, was on the coaching staff of the Canadian national seniors men’s flag football team that participated in the world championship in Florida.
Because that tournament was in September, he had to miss a few games at the beginning of the Royals’ season. He said scheduling this year’s world championship in August will avoid that conflict.
“After that tournament, Football Canada decided to recognize flag football as a high performance program,” said Evanisky. “So they hare moved forward and selected Chad Palmer as our head coach. Chad runs the flag football league in Saskatoon, and really, without him, this wouldn’t be happening.”
Team Canada is “top-heavy” with Saskatchewan players, not just because flag football is popular here, but also for practical reasons.
“For practice purposes we selected everybody, except for a couple guys, from Saskatoon,” said Evanisky. “But they’re players that have experience at the world level, and they know what it takes.”
Saskatoon recently hosted the provincial flag football championship, and is gearing up to host the national championship on the May long weekend.
Evanisky said flag football at the international level is “really big on safety.”
“There are a lot of different rules and techniques,” he said. “Once you get to the world level there is no contact at all, so you can’t even touch another player.
“I’m looking forward to the world championship,” he said. “It’ll be a great experience.”