By Matt Pascarella
The Windham Youth Football board made the decision that whatever was decided by the Maine Principal’s Association in regard to high school football, Windham Youth Football would follow that decision. The MPA decision was to not allow tackle football during the fall season, so Windham Youth Football will allow flag football or seven on seven.
Windham Youth Football teams have opened their flag football and youth cheering programs which run through October. The programs are open to boys and girls kindergarten through eighth grade.
Windham Youth Football will continue to offer an NFL flag football program for children in Kindergarten through Grade 2. They will also offer a flag football program modeled after USA Football’s flag football guidelines for grades 3 through 8.
The implementation of COVID-19 protocols will be a change for flag football. A more open style of play is encouraged in flag football. There will be no contact between players. Players that have traditionally been used to block or protect the passing quarterback will find him or herself the one who is being passed to or even doing the passing.
“Our flag football program will bring kids together for organized play that will be beneficial for them physically, mentally, socially and emotionally,” said Keith Boyle, vice president of Windham Youth Football and a seventh and eighth grade football coach for the program.
Spectators will be allowed, though they must follow the
guidelines for prevention of COVID-19. This
means wearing a mask and social distancing.
“Youth athletics provide reinforcement of concepts and fundamentals for success in life like goal setting, leadership, teamwork, dependability, perseverance, to name just a few. In these strange times the most important might be to provide an opportunity to be a kid, to play with friends and enjoy a carefree time,” said Boyle.
Director of Windham Youth Cheering, Christina Byther, said Windham Youth Cheering was something the community was missing. The Windham Youth Football board does a great job of setting up kids for success on the field, but she wanted to see some kids on the sidelines. The Windham Youth Football board was very supportive and approved a cheering team.
Participants will have a COVID-19 prescreen, wear a mask through their entire practice and practice social distancing. Their coaches will be COVID-19 trained and they are eliminating stunting this season to maintain appropriate space between athletes.
“One of the jobs of a cheerleader is to spread joy and encouragement. Right now, our kids need to feel some extra encouragement and to feel excited about something,” said Byther. “Cheerleading is a very athletic sport. This is a great opportunity for kids to get their bodies moving and learn some new skills.”
Byther’s hope is for kids to enjoy the fall weather, become stronger athletes and work on the fundamentals of cheerleading skills. “Additionally, this shows the awesome kids in this town that their ‘grown-ups’ are committed to showing them how to make the best out of a tough situation, work together, and enjoy the company of their peers...even from a distance.”
Windham Youth Football is a non-profit organization that is passionate about youth football, their cheering program and the well-being of the community’s youth. If you share that passion, please join in supporting their efforts. <grades kindergarten through eighth grade.