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Canadian Football

Canadian football is a full contact sport in which players try to advance the ball into the opponents' endzone, using runs, throws, and kicks. Substituting as many players as they like, both teams aim to advance down the field to place the ball into the opposing team’s end zone. When this occurs it is termed a "touchdown." Points may also be scored in the successful kicking of the ball between the opponent’s goalposts. An offensive play (called a "down") ends when a player is tackled to the ground. The team on offense must advance at least ten yards before four downs pass. If successful, the team receives four more downs; if unsuccessful, the possession is turned over to the other team. In contrast to American football, Canadian football is played with 12 players (instead of 11), on a longer and wider field, and with a larger football.

Is this activity known by any other names?

Football; Gridiron football

What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

The sport developed from association football and rugby football. The first game of American Football was played in 1869 between two university teams, Rutgers and Princeton. The first game of Canadian football was played at University of Toronto in 1861. While there have been some attempts to spread the sport to other countries, the Canadian code is played almost exclusively in Canada.

Who takes part?

Canadian football is primarily played by boys and men, ranging from children to men in their 30s. Women’s leagues are now starting to form, however these are primarily touch-only or flag football.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

Canadian football is played in the summer or fall months, though many athletes train year round.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?

Canadian Football League; Canadian Junior Football League; Dolphin Football Club; Greater Toronto Football League; Halton Cowboys League; Mississauga Football League; Scarborough Minor Football Association; University of Toronto Powderpuff Women's Flag Football; York Simcoe Minor Football Association

Cultural Significance

Canadian football is a popular spectator and participation sport in Canada. The nine team professional Canadian Football League is a popular spectator sport, with the Grey Cup championship trophy drawing millions of viewers. The sport is played by boys and men at high schools and universities across Canada.

Is there anything else we should know?



  • BMO Field
    170 Princes’ Blvd
    Toronto, ON M6K 3C3
  • Varsity Centre
    University of Toronto
    299 Bloor St W
    Toronto, ON M5S 1W2
  • Mississauga Valley Park
    1275 Mississauga Valley Boulevard
    Mississauga, ON L5A3R8
  • Tim Hortons Field
    64 Melrose Ave N
    Hamilton, ON L8L 8C1
  • Rogers Centre
    1 Blue Jays Way
    Toronto, ON M5V 1J1
  • York Stadium
    2 Avon Ave
    Etobicoke York, ON M6N 3W7
  • Ron Joyce Stadium
    1280 Main St W
    Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8

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