Blue give big bucks

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

The Chicago Bears' Israel Idonije and Calgary Stampeders' Riley Clayton are just two products of rapidly-growing Football Manitoba that are enjoying pro success.

And the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers continue to pitch in to help finance the various amateur programs. Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer presented Football Manitoba with a cheque for $115,030 at the Sun Centre yesterday.

About $36,000 of that amount was raised through 50/50 sales at Winnipeg's Grey Cup Game. The rest came from 50/50 sales at 10 Bombers home games.

It was the most ever raised for Football Manitoba.

"The Bombers never cease to amaze us," said Rob Berkowits, Football Manitoba executive director. "Each year, they get more and more generous.

"We are extremely fortunate to have the Bombers as a well-committed ally."

The money will go towards buying equipment, certifying coaches, clinics, etc.

"Our programs are just busting out right now," Berkowits said, adding that there were 6,200 players registered last year compared with about 2,200 in 2000. "And I'm confident we'll break the 7,000 mark next year."

Since 2001, the Bombers have contributed more than $520,000 to the cause.

"We see this as an investment to ensure the growth of the game at the grassroots level in the development of players and coaches," Bauer said.

The Bombers also donated $25,000 to the Winnipeg Rifles junior football club.

DECISION DELAY: Bomber head coach Doug Berry said there will be no decision on whether Danny Barrett becomes his new offensive co-ordinator until he returns from the Bombers' annual cruise on Feb. 12. Barrett, who left town Tuesday night, did not return another message left on his cellphone. Although sources say that the former Saskatchewan head coach is also mulling over an offer to become a CFL TV analyst, Bombers GM Brendan Taman believes Barrett prefers to coach. Reports that Barrett has applied for the Simon Fraser head coaching job are apparently unfounded.

REGINA-BOUND: As the Sun reported yesterday, Winnipeg's former offensive co-ordinator/offensive line coach Mike Gibson has been hired as Saskatchewan's new O-line coach -- and assistant head coach. Joining him in Regina will be former Bomber OC Paul LaPolice, the Roughriders' new receivers coach.

NO THANKS: Although B.C. offered third-string QB Jarious Jackson to Winnipeg, the Bombers weren't interested, Taman said ... Taman is planning to send CB Stanford Samuels a counter-offer by the end of this week ... Calgary has signed P Duncan O'Mahony ... Edmonton has hired Scott Squires as special teams coach.

FLEECED: In his first major trade since becoming Saskatchewan GM, Eric Tillman fleeced Hamilton by acquiring starting OL Wayne Smith, starting WR D.J. Flick, a second-round draft pick and the neg rights to West Texas QB Dalton Bell in exchange for third-string QB Rocky Butler, Saskatchewan's second and fifth-round draft picks and the neg rights to Iowa State QB Bret Meyer. Yikes.


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