Flag football league has been a big success

Photo by Timothy Ramsey- Antwan Steele Jr., red jersey, eludes a defender as he tries to score yet another touchdown.

Flag football league has been a big success
June 15
02:00 2017

With concussions being a big topic of interest in football, many parents are turning to alternative sports for their children to play. 

To keep kids interested in the game of football without the contact, the NFL has introduced their National Flag Football League in select states around the country. The league, which is designed as a way to keep kids active, is part of the NFL’s Play 60 initiative.

This is the first year the program has been in the state of North Carolina. There are several leagues throughout the county in cites such as Winston-Salem, Pfafftown and Clemmons.  The leagues are separated into three age level divisions.  The youngest division is for Pre-K, kindergarten and first-graders.  The second level is for second- and third-graders.  The highest level is for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders.  The Pfafftown division plays their games in the stadium at Reagan High School.

The 4-6 grade 49ers out of Pfafftown are at the top of their division, going undefeated thus far throughout the season.  This past Sunday, they took on the Saints in an entertaining game.  After going down early 7-0 in the first half, they came back to win 26-14 behind the stellar play of Antwan Steele Jr. and others.  The 49ers turned up the defensive intensity and held their opponents scoreless in the second half.

Antwan Steele Sr. is a coach and parent and says he was excited when he learned the flag football league was coming to his area.  He says his son has played both flag and contact in the past but because of his young age flag football is the better alternative for his son.

“This league is really an introduction to the sport of football for most because they get the chance to learn the basic rules for offense, defense and the different positions on the field,” Steele Sr. said.  “This is non-contact which is great for the young kids who have never played football before.

“I think this is a good league because, they have changed the rules for Pop Warner football to allow younger kids to play contact football,” Steele Sr. continued.  “I wouldn’t recommend sending a 5- or 6-year-old out there to play in pads.  It’s better if they can learn the basics here in flag then once they do put on pads, they will know what to expect.”

Steele Sr. said he decided to enter his son into the league because in the past, while playing contact football, he received a concussion in a game.  He says his son still had a passion for the game but he and his son’s mother decided it was much safer to involve their son in non-contact football at this stage in his life.

“We had to sit him down and let him know that flag football was going to be his only route until maybe high school because of the concussion issue,” Steele Sr. went on to say.  “We just let him know that his health is more important than playing a game.  This is his third year playing flag and he loves it.”

For Steele Sr. he says he chose this league because of the quality of the league.  He said the jerseys are official looking, the league is very organized and the practices are before the game, which alleviates the time issue for many parents.  He said he wanted to get involved as a coach because he has a passion for the game and wanted to help the young people learn the game of football.

“This is something I love to do and I love to give back to my community,” he said when asked why he decided to coach.  “Any way I can help the youth I will, whether it be through coaching or mentoring.  I’ve been coaching pretty much since my son was 5 and I am a motivator, which the kids respond to very well.”

The younger Steele, who scored two touchdowns on Sunday, said he loves playing in the league and looks forward to more competition as he gets older.

“To me the league is very organized and it’s good that all of the games are at one place,” Steele Jr. said.  “My teammates always help everyone out and gives everyone support.  It makes me feel pretty good to come out with a win.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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