For the first time in 21 months, the B.C. Lions will be gathering to play football.
The 2021 training camp for the Canadian Football League squad will begin this weekend, with the first practice scheduled for Sunday, July 11, at Hillside Stadium.
There has been no CFL action since Winnipeg defeated Hamilton 33-12 in the Grey Cup game of Nov. 24, 2019. The pandemic led to cancellation of the 2020 season and a delay to the start of the 2021 campaign.
Due to COVID-19-related federal health regulations, the first week of practices (July 11 to July 17) will be closed to the public.
Media interviews each day will be done remotely, using the Zoom platform.
Training camp will take place from July 11 to July 30, when the Lions depart Kamloops for Vancouver.
There will be 21 practices and three team scrimmages — on July 17, July 24 and July 29.
Due to the CFL’s truncated 14-game season (four games fewer than normal), there are no pre-season games this season.
The Lions will open the season with two games on the road — Aug. 6 at Saskatchewan and Aug. 12 at Calgary — before hosting Edmonton at BC Place Stadium on Aug. 19.
Division semifinals will be played on Nov. 28, with division finals following on Dec. 5, culminating in the Dec. 12 Grey Cup contest in Hamilton.
The Lions come into the 2021 season with a significant overhaul, from ownership, to coaching and down to the roster.
Owner David Braley died in October 2020 and the team belongs to his family estate as new owners are sought.
Head coach Rick Campbell begins his tenure this year, succeeding DeVone Claybrooks, who was fired following the 2019 season, his first and only with the Lions, in which the club missed the playoffs with a record of 5-13.
The Lions will welcome 100 players to training camp, including linebacker Jordan Williams, the team’s first pick in the 2020 CFL Draft and Nathan Rourke, a Canadian quarterback who shone while attending Ohio University.