Four-a-side for a good cause

Flag football has had a busy start
to 2011. From a women’s team competing in Florida to the start of the youth
league, the sport has seen no shortage of matches.

The Cayman Islands Flag Football Association’s
next tournament is slated to be a four-on-four competition next Saturday 19
February. The venue for the one-day event is still being decided and matches
are slated to run from roughly 9am until 6pm.

One of the chief organizers of the
tournament is association vice-president Brendon Malice. A men’s league fixture
for the Burger King Panthers, Malice states the idea for the tournament came
from a popular annual fund-raiser.

“We’re trying to use a similar
format as the kickball tournament,” Malice said. “For our tournament we’re
partnering with the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association. We want to raise
awareness of diabetes while promoting our sport. The idea is to educate people
on the role of exercise in countering diabetes and to urge them to be active in
a sport like flag football. It’s a good cause and proceeds from the tournament
will go to the foundation.

“The games themselves are
non-contact and similar to the States and the US equivalent called Let It Fly.
It has a man-on-man format and we would opt to have a maximum of six players on
a roster for male teams and seven to a roster for female teams. It should be
high-scoring and fun with team awards and various prizes. Four-a-side football
is a fun activity that is very simple football. Basically you say hike, you
throw the ball and you catch it. There are no complicated schemes involving
blitzing and zone defence.”

With direction from president Phil
Brown, Malice went on to state that the association has a number of initiatives
planned this year.

“Phil and I want to rejuvenate the
leagues and get more new faces. For example we want to build up the men’s
league, which is currently nine-a-side with downfield blocking. The women’s
league is doing well but we will change it to a seven-a-side format (as opposed
to the current five-a-side set-up). It will include screen blocking and adopt
to the international standards. The ladies on the recent Cayman select team
that competed in Florida were not used to seven-a-side rules and wanted the
change.

“We’re hoping the change will get
more ladies involved. Heading into this year there were some seven to eight
teams. Those squads will require more players for the new format. So either
they will have to recruit new players or, as I expect, teams will have to combine.
From there would come a seven-a-side tournament for both men and women. That
competition could develop talent as it would be for people who want a light
introduction to the game and a chance to learn the sport’s format. I’ve found
it’s a big adjustment going from the co-ed league to the national leagues.

“At the end of the day if we want
to compete abroad we have to change. We want to close that gap between us and
the States. We can compete but it’s tough when we only got a certain amount of
weeks while US teams play all year round.”

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The registration fee for the
four-on-four tournament is CI$150. For more information log on to http://ciffa.ky/