The Central Alberta Buccaneers have been recognized as the best organization in the Alberta Football League (AFL).
The AFL team claimed the inaugural Organization of the Year Award at the 2015 AFL awards last week.
“It was amazing. It’s a culmination of last year’s work being realized. To be recognized by the league and the guys who support the league is incredible,” said Todd Lewis, the chairman of the Buccaneers organization.
The team earned the award, which was voted on by the team executives from around the league, because of their outstanding community service record.
Since they were started in 2002 by Dave Hanni, the team has run on a policy of acceptance.
Players of any age or skill level are allowed to join the team, provided they are past their high school eligibility. In addition, the team organizes and participates in blood drives, kids’ football camps, as well as their annual ‘Team Up to Tackle Hunger’ food drive that raises 3,000 lbs. of food per year.
“I think it’s essential because you’re doing what a group of people should be doing, which is giving back to the community,” Lewis said, adding that he thinks it’s important for sports teams and organizations to get involved with their communities.
The Buccaneers were originally started as the Red Deer Buccaneers. Founder Dave Hanni played for the Calgary Thunder organization, who are now folded. Hanni, who resided in Red Deer at the time, had to travel to Calgary to continue playing football.
They are a registered non-profit and are now run by a board of governors and elected executives.
The Buccaneers finished third in the league during regular season play last year and beat the Airdrie Irish in the quarter finals before falling to the Fort McMurray Monarchs in the semis.
“Our record was one of the best we ever had,” Lewis said, adding that the team found success despite having the highest turnover of veteran players in club history.
Players aren’t required to participate in the community events that the Buccaneers are involved in, although Lewis said that most choose to get involved.
“They see the value and they love giving back,” he said, adding that the players have fun while they are out in the community.
The Buccaneers have already started recruiting for the 2016 season.
“If they want to get involved they can go to our web site, all of our contact information is on there. They can email or call me anytime,” Lewis said.
Anyone who is interested in becoming a Buccaneer can also get in touch with the team through their facebook page.