Competitive sports is growing for students of Grand Cayman with the whistle of approval from the NFL for the formation of a youth inter-school league.
An initiative of the Grand Cayman Flag Football Association, the NFL Youth Programme received support from Dart Cayman Islands, the current Women’s League sponsor.
Flag football is one of the fastest growing sports in the Cayman Islands and the positive feedback of participation from secondary schools on Island that support the introduction of the sport within the schools’ athletic curriculum is a testament to its popularity.
By introducing the sport to high schools, the association’s aim is to expose more youth to flag football, help develop a sense of school pride, increase physical activity and strengthen community and school relations.
With the support from Dart Cayman Islands, the initial fee required per player is $25, which includes an NFL reversible team-identified jersey and an NFL flag belt. The association also plan on having training camps with visiting NFL players and retired professionals to teach fundamental football basics.
“The development of youth programmes is very important to us here at Dart, particularly those that give children the opportunity to be active and try a sport that they might not otherwise have had the chance to enjoy,” said Joanne Lawson, Senior Manager for Organisational Development and Administration for Dart Enterprises.
“We also believe in healthy competition and see the new youth programme as a way to foster a desire to achieve potential among the young players.”
Lawson added that, on a personal level, she was very excited to learn that the programme was affiliated with the NFL as this will help to raise the profile of the league and hopefully attract more children to join in the fun.
The NFL Youth Programme has been running 16 years strong in the United States. Cayman’s version will introduce a boy’s and girl’s five-a-side league and all players, regardless of athletic ability, skill or knowledge of the game, are encouraged to join a team and enjoy the game.
Each school team will actually mirror current NFL teams such as the Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys or Green Bay Packers. Teams will be run by volunteer coaches within the community and the fundamentals of the sport will be taught, as well as life-skill principles like team-work, accountability and sportsmanship.
The association has been in planning stages for the past year with most of the high schools on Grand Cayman and is looking to begin the NFL Youth Programme this fall.
Association president Sophia Dilbert spoke about the process.
“It has been a long and arduous process, however one we feel will pay dividends now that we have positioned the association to offer such an opportunity to the youth on the island,” Dilbert said. “We believe this is the impetus needed to see the sport of flag football grow within the school environment.
“Our next step is recruiting volunteers who can commit a few days per week to assist in coaching a youth team.”
All football enthusiasts that can dedicate a few hours per week in coaching a high school team are asked to email the association with contact details and availability at [email protected]