Geared up to play for Team CanadaBy Jean Konda-Witte & Tyler Olsen, Special to the Times November 19, 2010
A Mouat football player will suit up in the red, white and maple leaf this winter for a big game deep in the heart of Texas.
Maleek Irons, who plays for the W.J. Mouat junior Hawks and also the Chilliwack bantam Giants, has been selected to play in an elite Canada-vs.-U.S.A. matchup at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, in January.
Irons, a runnning back, attended camps in Langley, Seattle and then Virginia this summer, where he drew the eyes of some of the top coaches at Football University, a football preparatory program that cultivates young talent.
“It was awesome,” said Irons of learning that he had been selected for the team. “I felt very proud that I would be playing on Team Canada.”
Irons came to Mouat from Chief Dan George Middle School this year, and although he now lives in Chilliwack, Irons goes to school in Abbotsford because there is no football program in Chilliwack high schools.
The Grade 9 student is a runningback for the Hawks and also linebacker.
“He’s got a lot of talent,” said coach Jim Mitchell. “He’s a big kid for Grade 9 and he’s very athletic.”
Irons started playing football several years ago in Vancouver and also laced up for Abbotsford/Mission teams before moving to Chilliwack two years ago.
Although he missed several games for Mouat this fall due to a concussion and an injured shoulder early in the season, Mitchell is hoping he’ll step up in a big way as the junior Hawks enter the post season.
“He has great potential. I think his greatness for us will be proved in the next three games [provided they win the quarter-final, which was yesterday],” he said.
“He’s got the vision and [is] sort of a slashing-type running back. We’ve seen moments of brilliance. He has good speed and acceleration,” said Mitchell, citing an earlier game where he carried the load for the whole team.
“His real talents will become more evident as we proceed in the B.C. high school playoffs and Maleeks gets more touches of the football,” added the coach.
“We expect him to do good things in this year’s playoffs and [he’ll be] a key component in our offence as a Grade 10 in 2011.”
For Irons, it’s all about toughness on the field.
“I just love the contact, I love the aggression,” he said when asked what drew him into the sport.
But off the field, Irons is a bit milder and admits to being a tad nervous about his trip to the Lone-Star state where football is king.
Irons and his teammates will fly to San Antonio the first week of January and will practise four times before the big game.
His mother Jolene said the upcoming trip is still sinking in for her son.
“We’re very proud of him. It’s quite humbling actually,” she said.
A Florida Gators fan, Irons eventually would like to parlay his football skills into a U.S. scholarship, much like Mouat grad Boseko Lokombo (now playing for the U of Oregon).
But for the time being, his goal is simple: “Beating Team America and having some bragging rights.