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ROCHESTER, NY – The MNFFL is a flag football league comprised mostly of home-schooled children (though not exclusively so) that plays its six-game season on Monday nights under the approaching-autumn skies of western New York State.
Begun by the enterprising youngster, Alex Campbell (then aged ten), it is entering its second season, and boasting nearly fifty percent more players.
“We’re so excited for this season,” says the now eleven-year-old Campbell. “We have a new team, some new logos, and plenty of new players. I think we learned a lot from that first season, too, so we’re much more prepared for all the details that need to be taken care of as we start this year.”
The details include securing a field big enough for two flag football fields, which are a little smaller than a full-sized football field, and this year, room for the younger siblings to play their own game on the side during game nights. The fields are measured out at thirty-five yards wide, by seventy yards long. (Twenty of those yards being the two ten-yard end zones.) The “Youngers” field (as it is being called) will be a bit smaller, using whatever space is available.
Flag football is a bit tougher than you might think. In tackle football, the object is simple: get the man with the ball down on the ground. In touch, it’s in some ways easier, but there are all sorts of qualms and squabbles over whether or not the player was touched, and/or if it was one hand or two. It can get ugly.
The difficult part of flag football is that, in order to end the play and get the player “down”, you have to grab the flag. If you have not done this before for yourself, you might find it is much more difficult—that the flag is much more elusive—than you might think!
The players range in age from ten to seventeen, both boys and girls, and many levels of skill—but one level of competition: competitive! The six-game season culminates with a Championship Day—the first Saturday in October—with the teams playing as they are seeded: 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3, based on the regular season records.
The champions take home individual trophies with their name, their team name, and the 2013 MNFFL Champions inscribed on their plaque.
Last year the Heat Lightning were the champions in a fiercely-fought championship game. Tempers flared during the contest, but there were genuine congratulatory remarks and high fives after the game was over. True sportsmanship.
With a fairly small roster of players, this league is still in its infancy, but there is much promise for the future. The league plans to expand to at least six teams next year, anticipating another fifty percent growth in membership. If the growth is larger, there is room for four more teams, which would necessitate two conferences.
“It’s really exciting,” Campbell admits, “This league was just something I sort of dreamed up in my head. I started creating the logos, and thinking of who I’d put on what team. My Dad helped me out a bit, and here we are, playing our second season. It’s really almost unbelievable!”
Indeed it is. Amazing what you can do when you aren’t limited by thinking about what you can’t do.
This little flag football league in Upstate New York is one more proof of that.