Northampton County Parks and Recreation Flag ­Football League Kickoff Last Weekend

Ayden Robinson runs the ball for the Steelers in the 5- to 8-year-old division.

Story and Photo by Brennan Waldorf

The league comprises two age groups and is part of the NFL’s official Play 60 flag football league. Both boys and girls can sign up to participate in a 5- to 8-year-old group or a 9- to 12-year-old group.

The league is in its sixth season but has been part of the NFL Play 60 for only the last two seasons. The NFL Play 60 league focuses on the fundamentals of football with emphasis on learning the rules and regulations of the game, concentrating on player safety rather than the violent hitting portion of football.

Registration for the league started in August but was pushed back to accommodate the school year. Early registration was $35 and late registration was $40. Registration includes NFL sponsored reversible jerseys along with belts and flags.

The season will include four games for the peewee league and six games for the older group, with each grouping having a single elimination tournament Nov. 2, at 12:30 p.m.

With goal posts being donated recently, the Northampton Parks and Rec seeks to extend its flag football portion with intentions of also expanding into a tackle league in the future. “The tackle league will be used to feed Northampton middle school, with hopes of building up the schools athletics,” said league coordinator Laura Jenerette.  The co-ed league uses a modified field that is 30 yards wide and 70 yards long with two 10-yard end zones, while also using a modified set of rules that coaches and players were still adjusting to on a very hot afternoon.

In past years, the league struggled with getting officials but that was remedied this year when it recruited the Hampton Roads Sports Officiating Association.  The official NFL Play 60 referees weren’t the only new feature to the league as it also changed venues, moving from the Indian Town Park to a newly renovated field behind the old Northampton Middle School in Machipongo.

The Northampton County Parks and Recreation is a community-based program and is dedicated to providing athletics and events to both adults and children. “We try to create an atmosphere that is equally fun, fair, and competitive,” said Jenerette.

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