Columbus Youth Flag Football director Vince James wanted to find an alternative to youth tackle football that can teach kids about the sportsmanship and the developmental skills that come with being a great athlete.
Two years ago, James started his own flag football league. So far, he said it has been working and it is making a huge difference in the skills, attitude and confidence of the players.
“Once I started training and understanding the science of things like speed, agility and quickness, this program helps them to establish those skills,” James said. “It helps them get better at football — or any other sport they may play, whether it may be basketball, baseball or any other sport. These skills will help them right away.”
The program is coed and it involves kids from as young as pre-kindergarten all the way up through eighth grade. It is broken down into four divisions. The Pre-K through first grade division is known as the Mighty Mites. Grades 2-4 are the Juniors, Grades 5-6 are the Seniors and the seventh- and eighth-graders are the Varsity.
The league runs twice a year, once in the fall and in again in the spring. This spring, it introduced a postseason tournament. The semifinals and finals of the tournament were held Sunday at Columbus North.
The teams in the field are named after NFL franchises. The program is sponsored by top organizations such as the United States Flag Football Association and the NFL Flag Football Play 60 program.
What makes this program unique is that the kids alternate playing each position on the field. Lee Naylor, who coaches the Seattle Seahawks flag football team, says it helps kids try to figure out what position they are best suited for down the road.
“It’s a wonderful program that gives everyone an opportunity in this league,” he said. “Everyone gets a chance to run the ball, throw the ball, and catch the ball. Vince James has done an outstanding job with this program. Our numbers are starting to grow, and we hope that continues. It is a great way for these kids to learn and get the respect from other coaches and teammates.”
According to James, there are approximately 125 kids in the program, but emphasized he would like to have more interested kids in the Varsity level.
“The word about this program is starting to come to cities around our area such as Greensburg, Seymour, Edinburgh and Jennings County,” James said.
This program has been a hit for many of the kids playing in the tournament, as well as their parents. It was so much fun for a lot of the kids Sunday that they mentioned they want to do this again next season.
For James and his young program, the results are an instant success and it will continue to grow in the future.