BREAKING NEWS: Niagara Storm form an Alliance with the HWMFA

James Ryan


Earlier this year, it was announced that the Niagara Storm youth football organization had officially decided to leave the OMFL in order to join the largest tier one football league in Ontario – the Ontario Football Conference (OFC) for the following divisions: Pee Wee (ages 11-12), Bantam (ages 13,14), Junior Varsity (ages 15-16), and Varsity (ages 17-19). However, since the OFC does not offer a division for the Atom level players (ages 9-10), the Storm had decided to remain on with the OMFL while they continued to explore more suitable options for their youngest group of players who are currently being led by the legendary Niagara minor football coach, Kent Risko.

Today, that option has finally come to full fruition, as the Niagara Storm, who aside from being proud members of the OFC, will now also become an official affiliate member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Minor Football Association (HWMFA), and that’s just the first major announcement of the day.

“We have partnered with the Port Dover Steel Heads and the Niagara Storm in St. Catharines to help promote youth football,” said Joe Sardo, Director of the HWMFA skills camp and minor development programs. “What that means is that we’ll potentially have one or two away dates as a result of this cross-over in partnership. Also, it should be noted that we are only partnering with those who we feel are the best and who share our vision.”

The HWMFA was originally established in 1982 and is widely recognized as one of Southern Ontario’s premier football associations. They offer a variety of programs from house league, to rep travel teams, to tier one Provincial Varsity teams. Their program has long become the first choice for developmental and competitive youth football in the Greater Hamilton area.

According to their website, the mission of the HWMFA is to “operate and compete in both developmental and competitive youth leagues in the South Central Ontario area in an effort to attain a safe environment of fair play and sportsmanship, while encouraging athletic endeavors to promote the physical, mental, moral and skill development of children in the game of football. The HWMFA will keep the welfare of its participants free of any adult ambition or personal glory and will promote the ideas of the youth sports regardless of race, religion, gender or national origin.”

Read: CFL QB Legend and 2012 HOF Damon Allen Supports HWMFA Winter Skills Camp

“This is a great opportunity for us to establish a grass roots system that will continue to develop our rep travel program,” said Storm President, Frank Trivieri. “The HWMFA is a true collective of all communities in the local Peninsula. We are proud and excited to be a member of their organization.”

The second major announcement today is that the Storm Pee Wee team, which is currently being led by head coach, Nick Pelligrino, will no longer be competing in the OFC. Instead, they will now compete in the HWMFA.

The third and final major announcement is that the Niagara Storm have also decided to add a sixth team to their organization – the Tyke level (ages 7-8). This would be the youngest age group in the entire organization and one that strictly focuses on having fun as a main priority. The team would only require a minimum roster of 15 players in order to compete – playing nine kids per side with an on-field coach/safety supervisor.

“In fact, if there are any moms out there who would like to give coaching a try, we’d love to have you on board for our Tyke team,” said Trivieri. “At that young of an age, the only things that really matter are having fun and being supported by someone who truly cares.”

The Niagara Storm is now entering into its fifth season, and are hands-down the fastest growing football program in the Niagara Region. And yes, they are still accepting registrations for all age levels from Tyke on through to Senior Varsity.

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James Ryan
James Ryan


  1. Paul Hiscoe

    Just to clarify this announcement. Is this a full league they will be participating in with full regular season, playoffs and championship, or jus a few exhibition games????

  2. James Ryan James

    Hi Paul,

    To clarify, my understanding is that the Niagara Storm and the Port Dover Steel Heads will both be participating in the full season, and not simply as an exhibition. I have also heard that the HWMFA plans to expand even further into other neighbouring regions over the next few years. This is not unlike what already exists in Niagara (NRMFA), which has teams as far apart from each other as Fort Erie and Smithville (45-minute drive?). Remember, the Niagara Region is very large, as is the Hamilton-Wentworth (Stoney Creek) Region.

    For anyone who might be worried about this merger, please don’t be. This will be the very first year that the Storm will have Tyke, Atom and Pee Wee teams, so it’s not as if they’re already experienced rep athletes that are going to automatically dominate a “house league.” We fully expect to be competitive, but hardly dominant. Most of our players will likely have never even played before.

    The Storm Bantam, Junior Varsity and Varsity teams on the other hand, will all be competing at a very high level in the Ontario Football Conference (OFC). The Tyke and Atom teams would not have been able to compete in the OFC anyway, as the OFC does not offer younger divisions.

    The Pee Wee team qualifies to play in the OFC (that was the original plan), but given that it’s our first year of recruiting for this age group, it makes more sense for the time being that they should also compete in the developmental Hamilton Minor League. The Pee Wee Head Coach (Nick Pelligrino) is from Stoney Creek and has previously coached in Hamilton. Also, the majority of his team are currently from Stoney Creek, and to my understanding, they were already planning to practice in Stoney Creek anyway. From a competitive standpoint, it just makes sense that they should compete against other Hamilton teams. And we are very excited and thankful to have partnered up with the HWMFA.


    A lot of negativity has come out of the Niagara Region since the Storm have started to demonstrate success, both on the field and off, and some people have even gone so far as to say that the Niagara Storm are “not a Niagara team.” This of course is nothing more than classic trolling behaviour, as over 85% of our Bantam, JV and Varsity players all come from throughout the entire Niagara Region. The other 15% come from outside of the Region (Hamilton). The OFC does not have territory restrictions and some players have simply chosen to drive a little farther in order to play for us. That is their prerogative, but of course, this does not sit well with the other established leagues in the Niagara Region.

    In addition, the offer to have a “mom” coach has also been twisted by anti-Storm critics. We believe that there are a lot of women who know a lot about football who would make excellent coaches, but to our knowledge, there are currently no female football coaches in the entire Niagara Region. We would like to be the first organization to offer this opportunity, and the Tyke team is as good a place to start as any. For one, anyone who has ever coached knows that, man or woman, you don’t just jump in and start coaching at a Varsity level. You need to start at the bottom with the youngest players and develop your coaching skills, as they develop their playing skills.

    And for anyone who thinks that it’s an insult to coach the younger teams – you obviously don’t know coaching. Take a look at our Atom coach – Kent Risko. He’s been coaching for decades and is the most winning-est coach to ever come out of Niagara. He even won a League Championship in the OVFL a few years ago. He’s not coaching at the Atom level because he is unable to coach at a higher level. Quite the opposite. He’s coaching at the Atom level because he loves coaching and teaching, especially the younger ages. It is an honour and a privilege to coach the younger age groups, but it also happens to be the best place for new coaches to start out because “having fun” will always take priority over “winning.”

    As coaches, we volunteer our time to teach these kids about the game and about the values that come from playing competitive contact team sports.

    The people who are the most disappointed by this news, are the same people who have been praying and wishing that the Niagara Storm would just fail and go away. Well, sorry to disappoint you (again), but we’re not going anywhere. Our players are the only ones who can dictate the future of our program, and no, our success is not a coincidence.

    Go Storm!!


  3. Paul Hiscoe

    James thanks for your quick response to my question. I was really just looking for an answer to the make up of the season. It appears from your response that my options for my son are house league in Hamilton or house league in Niagara. As we live in Niagara I will remain with that program once again thanks for your reply


  4. Bob

    Just providing an update on the above information. It is great that you are looking for a female coach. Just want to clarify that the NRMFA had a female coaching at the atom division in Smithville last year.

  5. Coach Bob D

    The Niagara Storm will be playing games at home. Practices will be Niagara region, and they will have some games at home, and some games away. Watch the video below for info on HWMFA.

  6. James Ryan James

    Thanks Coach Bob. I have now added that video to the bottom of the article. Cheers!

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