Flag football in Wareham hits ground running

Sep 03

There’s a new league giving kids ages 5 to 14 a crash course in football – without some of the dangers of the high impact sport.

A flag football league, launched by the long-running Wareham Tigers Athletic Association, aims to introduce kids to the sport and eventually add players to the high school team’s roster. 

“Participation is down for tackle football across the country,” said John Carrion, a flag football coach. “We want to introduce kids to the sport at an earlier age and get them to understand football before they’re eligible for tackle football when they turn seven.”

The league held its first practice recently, and the first games will be held Saturday, Sept. 8 at Spillane Field. Game times are 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Carrion said the goal was to draw more kids into the youth and high school football programs by giving them a fun, non-competitive introduction to the sport.

The league also gives kids who want to play, but who don’t want to be exposed to the risk of concussion, a place to work on their skills and have fun. Scores aren’t kept during league games, but kids are getting important lessons on teamwork, fundamentals of the game and sportsmanship, said Carrion.

“When they’re this young, it’s not about competition, but about learning the game and having fun,” said Carrion.

In flag football, there is no tackling. Instead, a play is ended when a flag, attached to the waist of the ball carrier, is grabbed by an opponent. During a recent practice, players ran through a series of drills, working on skills such as passing, blocking and running routes.

Carrion said the league should build a solid foundation for players who want to take the next step and join the tackle program, or provide a fun, team-building activity.

“Football is exciting,” said Carrion. “And this is the best way to introduce it to new players.”