The 120-plus young athletes who signed up to participate in the town-sponsored NFL Flag Football program this season are in for a special treat.
Not only will the players receive an NFL jersey, they will, for the first time, also receive NFL shorts.
“Thanks to the University of Phoenix — they donated them,” said Town Youth Sports Coordinator Joseph Harris. “It’s pretty cool.”
The non-contact flag football program, which was founded in the fall of 2004 by former P&R Director Bill Schwind, is part of a nation-wide league that was launched in 1996.
When starting the program in Payson, Schwind touted it as one that would educate young people about football while emphasizing participation and sportsmanship.
The highlight of participation is the regional flag tournament, which will be held Nov. 22 at the University of Phoenix Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals, in Glendale.
But before thoughts of regional play can be entertained, there’s the Payson league that begins play Sept. 7. Games will be played Monday through Thursday evenings. Each of the 10 teams in the league will play about two games each week. Although many NFL flag programs play in 5-on-5 formats, Payson games are played 6-on-6.
“That’s the only difference (between Payson and other programs),” Harris said.
In the games, the offensive teams play for first downs at midfield and a touchdown in the end zone. Running and passing play are allowed although there are “no running zones” at midfield and near each end zone.
For the upcoming league, players have been placed in one of two age divisions: 6 to 8-years and 9 to 13- years. All the Payson teams will all be named after an NFL franchise and wear those logos and colors.
Harris says he has rounded up 15 volunteers to serve as assistant and head coaches.
More adult players needed
While the youth flag football league is going gangbusters, the adult flag football league is in need of teams. In an effort to attract more participants, Harris extended the original registration deadline of Aug. 20 until next week.
Players must be 16-years to participate and the entry fee is $200 per team. Games will be played Wednesday and Friday evenings.
For more information, call Harris at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7