Piranhas to bring AAU football to Suffolk

Published 9:33 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kenneth Armstead’s decision to dive headlong into the world of youth football comes from working with kids not as a sports coach, but as a teacher in Suffolk’s schools for the last decade.

Fundamental skills, athletic ability and winning games will all be big parts of the two teams of Suffolk Piranhas Armstead is starting.

The Suffolk Piranhas will include a 10-and-under team and a 12-and-under team. The Piranhas, unlike the majority of youth football associations around Suffolk, Hampton Roads, and even the whole region of Virginia and the Carolinas who call Pop Warner Football home, are going into AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Football.

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The most obvious difference between the two organizations is the lack of weight rules or restrictions in AAU football.

“A lot of kids who are overweight don’t get into playing football at an early age,” Armstead said.

“They might not make weight, or a parent doesn’t allow them to play if they’re going to have to play up an age group because they’re bigger,” Armstead, who’s a teacher at King’s Fork High School, said.

Armstead wants the benefits to go both ways. He wants to help kids learn about nutrition and exercise while helping more young football players on the field before they are on the field for King’s Fork, Lakeland or Nansemond River.

Or, better yet, Armstead wants to make sure those kids are motivated enough to play high school football.

“I see overweight kids who don’t have the needed football knowledge when they get to the high school level, and that’s also why some kids don’t participate. It hurts the kids and it hurts the football teams,” Armstead said.

A challenge right away for the Piranhas is finding other teams to play. AAU Football is a fledgling league in this area but the Suffolk team will play squads in Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

The Piranhas will play teams from the Washington, D.C. area and perhaps a couple Pop Warner teams as well.

Registration will be held July 9 and July 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at King’s Fork High School.

“Parents will be given a package with what we’re trying to accomplish and what our philosophy will be,” Armstead said.

“I want to teach kids about nutrition, eating right, understanding the calories they’re eating, about exercise, then also about the socialization that goes with being on a team, and sportsmanship,” Armstead said.

“It’s going to be Christian-based. We want to help make kids moral, upright citizens in the community,” he said.

Tryouts are set to start July 25 at King’s Fork Middle School. Home games are likely to be played at Turlington Woods School on Friday nights or Saturday afternoons.