NFL Youth Football: A breath of fresh air

The opportunities for children to participate in sports are endless. Leagues and programs of all types are available throughout the country. Having spent 30 years involved in amateur sports at all levels, including college, I have seen and heard it all – good and bad.

My parents provided me with the opportunity to play sports. I developed a love affair with baseball that is still strong today. It began with the innocence of t-ball and continued through the competitiveness of high school and college. I have also coached and officiated baseball, allowing me to see the game from a whole different perspective.

As a parent, I take great pride in providing my kids the opportunity to play sports. I think very important life lessons are learned through participating in athletics. However, finding the right league or team can be a difficult task.

The Ohio Youth Flag Football Association is a recreational league for boys and girls that is affiliated with the NFL. The league commissioner is Cecil Doggette, a 14-year veteran of the NFL, NFL Europe and Arena Football League. Doggette also spent two years as an assistant coach with the AFL’s Columbus Destroyers.

My son began playing in the league this past fall. The experience has been absolutely wonderful. The entire organization is first class, and it starts at the top. Doggette is approachable and great with the kids. The enthusiasm he shows at every event proves that he himself is a kid at heart.

The fall season began with a draft party, mimicking the hype of the NFL draft. Each child has their name announced and gets to take their place at the front of the room with their teammates. The kids also receive a contract. Everyone has a great time!

The program focuses on giving the kids “life skills” and is backed by the moniker, Kids F.I.R.S.T (Fun Instruction Respect Sportsmanship Teamwork). Everyone involved in the league practices what they preach. My son is currently in his third session of football and we could not be happier.

After having such a great experience with football, my son has decided to add basketball to his activity list. We were pleased to sign him up for the Jr. NBA league, also run by Doggette.

We will continue to be involved in this wonderful organization for as long as my son wants to play. Seeing the joy on his face when he scores a touchdown is something that my limited writing skills cannot describe.

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