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Maricopa Youth Football is underway
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Maricopa Youth Football League (MYFL) is in full swing for the fall of 2009. Tuesdays and Thursdays you will find almost every usable corner of Pacana Park hosting teams of children aged 6 to 13, sporting helmets, pads, and footballs. Saturday August 15 is the first game; a round-robin event among Maricopa, Casa Grande, Apache Junction, and a couple of teams from Chandler -- all the leagues in this region of the Pinal County Youth Football Federation -- to get the official season underway. It will be held at the old Cougar stadium in Casa Grande.
After that, games will be on Saturdays. “I want to invite anybody that loves football to come out and watch us play,” said league president Joel Griffin. “We’ll be here at Pacana Park from 8 to 8 every Saturday.” Just watching the practice was refreshing. As president, Joel is responsible for keeping the ratio of kids to coaches small, so players get lots of individualized instruction. No coach works alone and no kids get left out. For a sport that can be grueling athletically and demanding logistically, there is no better way to learn the basics – and have a lot of fun in the process.
The coaches on this league are a special breed of people. They must be, for they have as much fun as the kids. The youngest teams, comprised of eager, grinning 6-year-olds, start with learning left and right and work their way through the basics of ball-handling, fair play, and teamwork. The older kids get more of the fundamentals: ball handling, passing and throwing, and the strategies of offense and defense. Griffin estimated they were serving about 225 kids this season. “It’s down a little from last spring,” he said. “It’s hard to find good coaches that have the time to invest. I’m really proud of our coaches. Some of them don’t have kids in the league. They just want to help out.”
In fact, many folks contribute to making this an excellent league. To date there are three local organizations helping to defray costs: Orbitel Communications, Pinnacle Education, Inc., and Maricopa Chamber of Commerce. The City partners with MYFL to sponsor kids who need it and otherwise might not be able to afford the cost of equipment. A 12-person MYFL board oversees registration, logistics, equipment, fundraisers, concessions, and information. Parks and Recreation supplied the Pacana Park facilities for the season. Parents and others chip in wherever they are needed: supervising, taxiing, cheering, and cleaning up after the games.
All the dedicated work shows plainly: in equipment, in attitude, and in results. MYFL had a championship team last fall, and are eager to repeat the experience. The only hitch in last year’s program was the championship game, which MYFL wanted to hold under the big lights of the High School football field. The school district had reservations, and Martin McDonald of Parks and Recreations engineered a payment of $5,000 to the district for the privilege. “I was pretty surprised, actually, by their reaction,” said Griffin. “I mean, we’re training their future football teams here. I figured they’d jump at the chance to help out.” What will the league do this year? A new sports complex is being built at Francisco Grande, and Griffin hopes it will be completed in time to play there.
As with any organization of this nature, there is never enough money or time. Fundraisers are key resources to getting it all done. Recently the teams held a pretty successful car wash, and a candle sale has just finished. MYFL has been invited to compete in a New Mexico tournament in November, and are planning more fundraisers to earn the money to go. They are looking for local businesses or organizations who will donate the space for these ventures. For everyone else, keep an eye peeled for car washes. Helping the kids earn money through their fundraisers is a relatively painless way to donate to the cause. Volunteers are also needed to run concession booths, supply concessions and bottled water, and other capacities. And, of course, donations of money are gratefully accepted.
If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity or in donating to the MYFL, you can find contact names and numbers on the official website at www.copayouthfootball.com. Joel’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and you are welcome to email him there. Or, call his cell phone, (602) 400-7349. Better yet, come out to the games! He’ll be there!