Suffolk flag football league kicking off soon

Published 9:55 pm Saturday, July 25, 2009

Suffolk Parks and Recreation’s Men’s Flag Football League has been around for only a few years, but has already developed a reputation for good family fun and healthy, positive competition

“We’re looking forward to a fantastic season,” said Jason Jones, recreation supervisor for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We’ve already had a lot of interest and a lot of phone calls, so we’re excited for this season.”

Jones said the league is a mix of former football players who look forward to the competition and guys out to have fun and get a lot of exercise. The Suffolk league has even drawn teams from around the region who take flag football pretty seriously.

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“Some teams from various cities, they will play in the Newport News league, then in a league in Virginia Beach, and in our league, so they’re always practicing and a lot of the players are very competitive,” Jones said.

“But we always have fun. At the end of the games the guys always shake hands and trade high fives,” Jones said. “The families and children are out there cheering, so that makes it great … it’s fun to see kids support the dads when it’s usually vice-versa.”

Area flag football leagues have become so popular that last season, Jones said, teams were calling up and trying to find a way to be put on the schedule after Suffolk’s season was already underway.

The Suffolk Parks and Recreation league had 12 teams last year. If a team does well enough in the local league, it’s possible to go on to state and national tournaments.

Even with competition which can get pretty high, Jones said new players are welcomed onto teams all the time.

If there’s someone new to the area, or simply new to the sport, Jones asks rookies to contact Parks and Recreation and give them a phone number or e-mail address. That info is passed on to the team captains and teams which need players pick up the new free agents.

“The guys get tired out there,” Jones said. “They know they need some subs. There’s a lot of running and often times we get twisted ankles.

“Plus most of the guys just want to have fun out there,” Jones said.

The playing field is a little shorter than a 100-yard field and of course there is no tackling. A ball carrier is down when a defender grabs one of his two flags. Other than those differences, most of the rules are similar to high school, college or the pros.

Good officials make the league successful as well, Jones said.

“We work with great officials. They keep the game controlled and they’ve very professional. If there’s a disagreement about plays, the refs will pull the two team captains together and explain the rules and keep the game moving.”

Games are scheduled usually starting at 1 p.m. on Sundays and going through the afternoon at John F. Kennedy Middle School. The league is only for ages 18 and older.

The registration deadline is Saturday, Aug. 3 and the fee is $320 per team. There will be a league meeting on Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Suffolk Parks and Recreation Administrative Office on the third floor of the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts. The season will start at John F. Kennedy on Aug. 16.