Youth flag football a breath of fresh air

By Lara Patangan
Resident Community News

Are you ready for some football? Local children are getting in on the game by participating in the Catholic Flag Football League (CFFL) held September through November on the campus of Assumption Catholic School.

These boys all decked out in Jaguar blue are ready to play flag football

These boys all decked out in Jaguar blue are ready to play flag football

The potential future Jaguars on the white-shirted team posed for a picture between scrimmages

The potential future Jaguars on the white-shirted team posed for a picture between scrimmages

Brian Enoch, David Blaquiere, NJROTC Master Chief Kevin Harris and Ken Dean participated

Brian Enoch, David Blaquiere, NJROTC Master Chief Kevin Harris and Ken Dean participated

CFFL_03CFFL is now in its 14th year and hosts175 kids ranging in age from six to 13. It is run exclusively by volunteers, including the referees who are Bishop Kenny High School NJROTC cadets. Master Chief Kevin Harris, a Naval Science Instructor at Bishop Kenny, who has coordinated cadet involvement for the past eight years, said it provides an opportunity for the referees to develop leadership, self-confidence and discipline. “The leadership skills we learn in class can be practiced out there,” Harris said.

According to Ken Dean, a St. Nicholas resident and one of the founders of the league, the CFFL strives to provide a Christian atmosphere while teaching young athletes valuable lessons about teamwork and fair play. “We (Mark Plotz and Mike Soha, the other two league founders) took everything we liked from the leagues we played in and got rid of everything we didn’t like,” Dean explained. “We have a code of conduct with an emphasis on the player.”

Bruce Hinschberger, one of the CFFL’s directors, said many kids from this league, which uses the NFL flag football program as a guideline, have gone on to play for local high schools.
Still, the program’s foundation is more about a winning attitude than winning the game.  “The league’s focus is not on winning, but providing a Christian environment for kids to learn positive values like sportsmanship, competition and teamwork while learning the fundamentals of football,” Hinschberger said.

Erik Airheart, a league coach and St. Nicholas resident whose son Sammy has played in the program for the past three years, said, “the CFFL’s safe and secure environment founded on principles of good sportsmanship, teamwork, faith and family is a breath of fresh air.”

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