Flag Football Focusing On Fundamentals And Fun

November 4th, 2013 | By Gary No Comments


Find-your-move-3.4It’s that time of year again when boys and men alike hit the gridiron to play the #1 sport in America, football. For the majority, this means putting on hot and heavy pads and helmets, and often playing a specific position on either an offensive or defensive line. But for a growing number of people – male and female! – playing football means putting on some cleats and a belt with some flags hanging off of either side.

Flag football has been played for decades, but in recent years it has been growing in popularity among young and not-so-young athletes who want to really enjoy the game without the focus on blocking and tackling. This is especially true for parents of younger kids who want them to learn the fundamentals of the game without the risk of injury. The rules, strategies and plays are similar to regular football but with a few twists that keep the game both challenging and fair. The rules also vary depending on the age and/or skill level of the teams playing. Younger players focus on running and passing plays with very little contact while some adult leagues play a more physical game that some say is even rougher than regular football because there are no pads.

Currently, Oconee County Parks and Recreation offers the only youth flag football league. Their program divides kids into two age groups of five- and six-year-olds and seven- and eight-year-olds. The teams are trained by volunteer coaches who teach kids the fundamentals of passing, catching, running, and both offensive and defensive team strategies and play formations. Players are also rotated through different positions so they can apply their newly developed skills in the six to seven games they play in the season. For youth flag football, the field is smaller to increase the pace and activity of the game. They also use a Nerf football, which is easier for these young kids to throw and catch. For more information, go to www.oconeecounty.com/ocprd.

Maybe you’re not a kid anymore but you still love to throw a football … or perhaps you played in high school and just miss playing the game … or maybe you played in a ‘powder puff’ game and always wanted to do more with that sport. Well, you’re in luck because there are places for adults to play flag football in the Athens area. If you are a student at UGA, the intramural department offers a variety of flag football options including both 7vs.7 and 4vs.4 formats in various combinations including men’s, women’s and co-ed teams. Find details at www.recsports.uga.edu.

There are three local adult leagues for the rest of us. The East Athens Flag Football League plays every Sunday afternoon at Cedar Shoals High School. A similar league plays weekly (currently Wednesday nights) at the Madison County Recreation fields. Both of these are men’s leagues for guys who want to have fun playing a physical game of football with some blocking. Players range from 18 to 40 years of age, although EAFF will allow minors (15-17) with a waiver. There are rules, but no officials or set teams. The coordinator sets up the teams each week based on who shows up. These leagues are open to new players and there is no cost, but donations are periodically requested to cover equipment expenses. For more information about the East Athens league, email Jason at jhkelley@uga.edu; for the Madison league, email James at xoamberinoxo@aol.com.

Oconee Parks and Recreation also has both men’s and women’s leagues that play in the fall. These leagues play on Sunday afternoons in a 9vs.9 format with officials. Many of the teams are affiliated with a church or business, but individuals can register and be placed on a team. If you’re interested in playing, hurry up and contact Drew Torok (706-769-3965 or dtorok@oconee.ga.us)! Team registration deadline is August 20, but individuals can still join a team before the first games on September 8.

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