The decision, which was unanimously passed by teams earlier this winter, will allow teams to carry a specified number of 23- and 24-year-old players, which the league is hoping will improve development, and future opportunities for players.
“The increase of the age limit for players in the OFC will allow for a greater number of participants to compete at a higher level of football, therefore providing additional opportunities for players to hone their skills and better prepare themselves for a potential career in the Canadian Football League,” wrote Darren Cocchetto in the league’s news release.
The move also halts inter-conference games in the Canadian Junior Football League, as the OFC is the only member increasing their age limit.
Last season, several local football players continued their playing careers with Southwestern Ontario’s two teams, the London Beefeaters and the Windsor AKO Fratman.
Wallaceburg’s Lee Purnell had 1 TD, and 182 receiving yards in 5 games with the Beefeaters. The 6’4″ athlete stared for the Wallaceburg Tartans in their Kent and SWOSSAA wins over recent years. Josh Woodman also played for the Beefeaters, while also seeing time with the Western University Mustangs. The wide receiver had 2 TDs, and 361 receiving yards with the Beefeaters, and was a 2012 OFC All-Star.
The Windsor AKO Fratmen had a large contingent of local athletes practicing or playing with the team led by Wallaceburg’s Dan Fox, as well as Chatham’s Jeremiah Hamilton, Josh Wright, Cody St. Pierre, and Evan Vaughan.
The Chatham-Kent Cougars play under the OFC’s umbrella, but do not offer a CJFL entry.