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Flag Football League Exceeding Expectations
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2018-06-14

            When the Upper Perkiomen Indians Youth Football and Cheerleading

A player for the 9U Packers flag football team

runs down the field with the ball while a team-

mate looks to run interference agains the 

Eagles on June 9.

Association decided to offer Team X Flag Football, the organization's officials considered 100 applicants an optimistic forecast, according to President Shawn Leh. 

            On Saturday, 162 children in five age groups participated in the league's penultimate weekend at Issac Smith Park in Green Lane.  "We really exceeded our expectations," Leh said.

            The newest local version of the Youth NFL Flag Football League, which features 5-on-5 football where contact is not allowed and all the players are eligible receivers and serves boys and girls between the ages of five and 16, concludes an eight-game schedule Saturday.

            Games played on a field measuring 50 yards long by 30 yards wide last 50 minutes.

            The flag football league fills a void for parents who don't want their children to play tackle football, according to Leh. 

            "This is much safer than tackle football," said Matt Ellis, an Upper Hanover resident whose son Liam plays for the 7U Redskins.

            According to Cookie McGowan, an East Greenville resident, her eldest grandson playing in the league missed six months of school "on and off" after sustaining a concussion in tackle football. She said Derian Johnson, who pays for the Seahawks in the 11U division, prefers flag football. According to McGowan, his younger brother Austin - who plays for the 11U Seahawks - "is all about tackle football."

            For others, like Chase deCesare, of Macungie, who also participated in tackle football in the fall, the league enhances their skills on the field. Leh described it as the equivalent of fall ball for baseball players. 

            The goal is to teach the players the basics of football and make sure they have a good time, according to Leh. He said league officials examined the rosters midway through the season to make sure no team has too many of the better players.

            "No one wants to be part of a blowout," said Leh, a Hereford resident.

            According to Leh, the coaches operate within the understanding of the UPIYFCA's core values, which includes providing a sports experience where every child enjoys the game free from excessive pressures to win; places learning, fun, and friendship at the center of the sports experience; guarantees equal participation for every child regardless of ability or performance; acknowledge the importance of friendships in the team building process; recognizes the importance of protecting family life by limiting practice times to one day, games to one hour a week and by providing a sports free Sunday; recruits high character coaches that will model and teach players to develop character through sports; partners with local churches to express the faith, hope and love the comes from a relationship with Christ and pursues multiple funding channels to ensure that no child is ever deprived the opportunity to play sports.

            The idea is to allow each child to play each position, according to Ellis, an assistant coach with the Redskins.

            In the younger age groups, coaches position themselves on the field and huddle with the team to call a play. He said that early in the year, the coaches had to explain the details of each play to the quarterback and who would be the likely primary receiver.

            "Midway through the year, they started to figure things out on their own," Ellis said.

            The flag football league features at least one girl on every team, according to Leh. He said 90 percent of them have scored a touchdown this season.  "This program has always been coed," Leh said adding that a long-term goal is to create an all-girls league. "Some of the girls are better players than some boys."


 

 

 

 

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