The Orleans Bengals Football Club is now the Orleans Minor Football Association after the organization recently underwent a rebranding process lead by its new president Qasim Khan.
Khan, whose roots with the Bengals date back to his days playing with the Gloucester Dukes in the late 90s and early 2000s, replaces the club’s former president George Zigoumis who will remain on the board of directors as club ambassador and past president.
Along with the organizational name change, the club’s U18 midget team will also have a new name. The Orleans Raftsmen will henceforth be called the Orleans Fighting Maroons.
The name is rooted in Canada’a Afro-Caribbean past. The Fighting Maroons was the name attributed to a militia company that was formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1796 among a group Jamaican exiles known as the Jamaica Maroons.
The Maroon community was settled in Preston, Nova Scotia where they remained until 1800 when they were relocated to Sierra Leone after petitioning the British Government for transport and provisions.
The Fighting Maroons will also have a new head coach with Jean Guillaume being brought in to replace Ron Raymond.
Guillaume has been the head coach at St. Matthew High School for the past number of years, leading the Tigers to a OFSAA Bowl Game win in 2017.
The new name must still be ratified by the National Capital Amateur Football Association (NCAFA), and the team will continue to play in the Quebec Midget Football League.
The Raftsmen name will carry on with the club’s U17 bantam team. The Orleans Jr. Raftsmen will play in the National Capital Amateur Football Association (NCAFA).
Likewise the organization’s tyke, mos-quito and peewee teams will continue to play as the Orleans Bengals.
Khan says the reorganization and re-branding has been in the works since early February. His appointment as president was precipitated by the coronavirus out-break.
“George (Zougamis) full-time job has him in the thick of things and he didn’t feel he could spend the necessary time to fulfill the duties as president, so the board approached me to take on the role and I agreed. George will still stay in an advisory role,” says Khan.
As for the impact the coronavirus outbreak is having on minor football in Ottawa, Khan says the sport is in the same position as every other sport in the city – suspended until further notice.
“Everything is up in the air. Some of the kids are training at home. The club is still holding virtual meetings, but nobody knows when we will get to play again,” says Khan. “I can tell you that minor football will come back stronger than ever. Football players are used to getting knocked down and getting back up again and we’re going to get back up from this. Kids are a pretty resilient bunch."
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