Showing their wares: The Capital Area Football Association will be involved in the 29th annual FSI auction/dinner Saturday at the Aitken Centre. Above promoting the event as they show some of the items for the auction are, from left: Andrew Allaby, Capital Area Minor Football Association President; Jodi Steeves, Fundraising Coordinator for the Capital Area Minor Football Association; Kent Murphy, volunteer chair for the CAFA and UNB Red Bombers representative; Michele Richardson, Fundraising Coordinator for Leo Hayes High School varsity football; and Pat Bourque, representing Fredericton High School varsity football. Former Olympic swimmer Marianne Limpert will be the guest speaker at this year's event. 

Football gets in on the action
FSI dinner/auction: Aitken Centre site of 29th annual fundraiser slated for Saturday

By Dave Ritchie
Published in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner on Thursday December 3, 2009.
Appeared on page B1

Kent Murphy wants people to know that first and foremost, he's a football guy. He's got a passion for the sport and he wants to see it grow in the capital region.

He's also a special teams kind of guy who has made the commitment to take the offensive in the pursuit of paydirt in the end zone as it applies to the support of the sport in the area.

Instead of points on the scoreboard, though, Murphy's game is all about dollars and cents. And the end zone is the bottom line return for the newly formed Capital Area Football Association.

Murphy's calls himself the chair of the dinner and auction committee within the new group. He's the point man, if you will, for the group as it begins its first year as a full-fledged partner in Saturday's 29th annual dinner-auction put on by Fredericton Sports Investments Ltd.

FSI is an organization made up of local sports/business people formed originally in 1981 to oversee the fortunes of the Fredericton Junior Red Wings team that operated in the day.

When the team ceased to exist, the FSI became a fund-raising organization for any number of local sports groups who were willing to participate in securing items for an annual dinner-auction, with the monies raised distributed to the specific groups proportional to their input (bid items).

FIS secures a guest speaker for the dinner portion, with the live auction featuring auctioneers Frank and John Jardine and Troy Whittaker immediately following. There's also a silent auction.

According to its website, the FSI has raised some $1.6M with its dinner-auction since the inception, all for the benefit of the local groups which includes many of the city's AAA hockey teams plus the high school teams.

There are the full-fledged partners, and other groups operating more on the periphery. The FSI also oversees the annual Fredericton Wall of Fame induction and ceremonies each May.

This year's dinner-auction goes Saturday beginning with a reception around 4 o'clock. Dinner commences at 5 o'clock with the live auction portion beginning around 6:45. Festivities can go as late as 11 p.m.

Fredericton's Marianne Limpert, who won a silver medal in swimming at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and is a three-time Olympian for Team Canada, is this year's guest speaker, scheduled to speak around 6:15. Tickets go for $75.

Murphy, who coached in the Capital Area Minor Football Association, says the formation of the CAFA stems from the desire of the various football constituencies in the area to have a more concerted and collective approach to its fund-raising and promotional efforts.

"You had the high school groups going in one direction and the people in minor football going in another direction, and it just seemed like the time was right to get all these groups working together,'' says Murphy.

"The interest in football in this area is increasing all the time, and there's more priority being placed on fund-raising and things like that.''

He says the formation of the Fredericton-UNB Red Bombers and the new Atlantic Football League featuring junior-aged players between the ages of 18-24 provided a catalyst for the footballers to pool their resources under the one group.

Hence, the CAFA including representatives from both the Fredericton High School Black Kats and Leo Hayes High Lions, Capital Area Minor Football and the Red Bombers. Partners for football, says Murphy.

"We're a lobby group, and a fund-raising group interested in promoting football in the area,'' says Murphy. "That's why it's such a big deal for us to become a full-fledged partner with the dinner-auction. It's all about football having a presence at the dinner as well. You're going to see a lot of the football people there at the dinner.''

Murphy says committees were formed from each of the groups to go out and solicit items for the auction and sell tickets to the events, which is part of the deal for the FSI partners.

"We had eight weeeks to put it all together, and it's amazing the amount of items the groups were able to gather. Our goal is to raise between $12-$15,000 from the auction and it's all going to go back to support football in the area.''

He mentioned such items as a helmet autographed by Josh Sacobie, the former Leo Hayes graduate who set all sorts of passing records with the University of Ottawa Gee Gees in Canadian University football. There's a football autographed by the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos.

NFL fans can bid on an Earl Campbell-autographed Houston Oilers' jersey. There's a Black Kats' helmet autographed by members of the B.C. Lions. And Murphy's company, Accreon, is sponsoring a UNB Red Bombers Lunar Rogue Keg Party and a Moncton CFL package for four.

In all, Murphy says there's 12-16 items for the live auction and some 40-50 available in the silent auction.

"I see this group working together like a football team, with an offence and defence and special teams", says Murphy. 

"It's all about giving back. You see kids involved with the high school programs giving back to minor football".

"You see the minor hockey kids going up to Chapman Field and supporting the Red Bombers. You see guys who played at the high school level now giving back either coaching or doing clinics for the kids and things like that. They appreciate what they got and want to give back."

Murphy see CAFA's role as a facilitator. 

"Dave Blanchard (of Football New Brunswick) put on a football camp involving some 80 kids last summer and you had guys like Dave Skillen, Josh Sacobie, Jake Thomas (former high school players in the area playing at the CIS level) helping out these kids. That's what it's all about."