January 11th, 2011
NFL Flag Football Program
The National Football League has sponsored a youth flag football program since 1996. The league accepts boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 17 and offers them a fast-paced, safe, team-building experience. According to the NFLFLAG.com website, the program “is designed to educate young people about football while emphasizing participation and sportsmanship. Players learn skills and lessons that help them succeed both on and off the field.”Leagues are created on a local basis by interested authority figures in the community. Starting a league generally takes 12-14 weeks. Interested parties begin by registering as League Organizers on NFLFLAG.com and providing basic information. Each league requires a Certificate of Insurance. Approximately 12 weeks before the league’s start, organizers must submit a logo application to the NFL. This process may take 2 weeks or more to complete depending on the information requested.At the 10 week mark, organizers should upload their Certificate of Insurance to the website. The online registration form must be finalized before organizers start marketing their league. This can be done with the provided downloadable poster, along with fliers and ads in local papers and community centers. Leaders should feel free to get creative, but make sure to follow your community regulations. After promoting the league, organizers can order official NFL FLAG equipment. This should be done between 14 and 18 days before the desired reception date.There is both a spring and a fall season in the NFL FLAG league, and the league features both national and regional tournaments. The 2011 NFL FLAG National Tournament of Champions is being held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida. While the NFL suggests certain age divisions to break up the league, leagues can be divided in other ways, such as by grade. The NFL FLAG league does require a minimum cost of 20 per player to cover the cost of equipment.Coaches who are unsure of their experience drawing up flag football strategies should refer to the NFL Flag Plays section, which breaks down plays based on a passing tree”a numbered system used for the passing routes. The passing tree system is designed so that all even-numbered routes (2,4,6,8) are run towards the middle of the field and all odd-numbered routes (1,3,5,7,9) are run towards the sideline.” A number of passing examples are included to help open coaches’ eyes to the possibilities of flag football.NFL FLAG is a great way to reach out to the youth in your community and get them involved in a great new experience. Don’t worry if you’ve never coached beforeit can be a learning experience for all of you, and you can always look for an assistant coach later.