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A vote of confidence for flag football

from NJ.com

Three years ago Haddon Township resident Eric Landgraf and his neighbor had a conversation about how they could help grow interest in the youth football program that they both had spent much time with.

After kicking around some ideas, they decided to look into creating a flag football league. They knew there would be obstacles in the way but were determined to make a fun league targeted at teaching kids some of the fundamentals of football without a demanding schedule that took them away from their other activities.

If this story sounds familiar, that’s because the same thing is happening in Cumberland County.

As the Cumberland Midget Football League prepares for its inaugural flag football season, the founders should take solace in knowing that it can work.

Landgraf has provided the proof.

The Haddon Township Youth NFL Flag Football League was created three years ago and is averaging about 280 kids – exclusively from the township.

It is the only other local flag football league outside of the South Jersey Youth Flag Football League, which encompasses teams from all over the state.

“My neighbor and myself wanted to try to grow the interest in football in town,” Landgraf said. ” With soccer growing kids don’t start playing football until later, so we thought, lets play flag football. It is an easy thing to do and our mission statement is a commitment to fun. We practice for a half hour then play a game. It’s really just laid back and easy going, and we teach them the basic principles of football.”

As to be expected there were a couple of obstacles in getting the league created. The Haddon Township Athletic Association had concerns about sharing the fields with other sports and how a football league would take away from its baseball and softball programs.

It didn’t take long for the parties to come to an agreement that has been beneficial to all involved.

Since all of the spring sports take place during weekdays and Saturdays, utilizing Sunday became a no-braininer for the league.

“We set it up so that we would play only on Sundays, and that allows us to have all of our fields for the whole day,” Landgraf said.

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It also allows kids the opportunity to play baseball and flag football, instead of having to chose just one.

Because of this approach Landgraf said that the feedback has been completely positive.

“Quite honestly, the response has been phenomenal,” said Landgraf, who has four kids and has been involved with just about every athletic program in Haddon Township. “Everyone loves it. The big thing is the kids love it. There are plenty of kids that won’t be playing tackle, but they come out and get to play a little football.

While there are differences form Haddon Townships League and the one Cumberland is starting up – Cumberland is not setting location boundaries for teams and is including an adult division – following Landgraf’s template is not a bad way to start.

After being informed about some of the details that have gone into Cumberland starting a new league, Landgraf voiced his approval. He also stressed that for the league to work there needs to be a group of committed volunteers willing to put the work in.

“We have a group of nine of us that meet and go over things to make sure we are staying on the right track,” said Landgraf. “The No. 1 thing is that we have nine guys that like football and like one another and don’t mind putting in time.”

Led by CMFL President Carl Hemple, Ira Gravely, Ernie McCoy, Kye Sheppard, Roy Rowe and Al Beverly, the local league is already off to a great start from a commitment standpoint.

Said Landgraf: “It’s something that has the kids love and has a lot of potntial.”


One Response

  1. Outstanding Blog.It was so nice to read your article.Congratulations!.X FLAGFOOTBALL believes in giving back to the community via fundraisers, charitable donations, and partnering with local schools to manage their off season passing leagues.

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