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Dec 29, 2015

Somerville Recreation to Switch from Youth Contact Football to Flag Football Program

Somerville Recreation to Switch from Youth Contact Football to Flag Football Program

With contact football-related injuries on the rise nationally, Somerville joins growing list of communities making the switch to flag football for younger residents.

SOMERVILLE – Somerville Recreation announced this week that, following a national trend due to increased risk of injury, and due to declining enrollment, the City’s Youth Football program will be discontinued and will switch to a non-contact Flag Football Program for Somerville youth in grades one through eight.

In 2013, the City joined the Northeast Conference Youth Football League (NECYFL). However in light of recent increases in youth injuries – and deaths – caused by contact football nationwide, Somerville will become the latest community to offer a non-contact Flag Football program through the City’s Recreation offerings (see the full list at www.somervillerec.com). The programming change mirrors community preference: as enrollment for youth football has declined, participation in both paid and intramural flag football leagues in Somerville has steadily risen.

“Particularly over the past few years, the rise in injuries among young people playing  contact football, both in game situations and during regular practices, demonstrates a need for us to reevaluate the programs we offer to our youngest residents,” said Jill Lathan, Director of Recreation and Youth. “Somerville Recreation has a history of providing programs and opportunities for youth of all ages and interest levels, but we also have a commitment to keep our children safe while they have fun. Interest and participation in Flag Football is increasing both in Somerville and nationwide, and we are excited to be able to offer the program here in Somerville that will teach youth the necessary skills if they do choose to participate in contact football at an older age.”

The Somerville Recreation Flag Football Program will be offered for a small fee ($25.00) to Somerville youth in grades one through eight, grouping children into grade-based teams as follows:

Freshmen: 1st and 2nd grades

JV: 3rd and 4th grades

Varsity: 5th and 6th grades

NCAA: 7th and 8th grades

The program will run in summer 2016 over a nine week period, with games taking place on Sundays, and team practices one weekday each week.

“We do understand that there are children and families in Somerville who are interested in participating in a contact football program, and to that end we will continue to support similar programs within the city, just as we do with other sports programs. For example, Somerville Recreation’s equipment rental program continues to provide support and assistance to community athletics including Pop Warner, youth soccer, and youth softball, among others,” said Lathan. “While it is our understanding that a private group may opt to pick up and support a youth football program, at this time the City will not continue to fully fund a program, particularly with declining enrollment and an increasing risk of injury to the players.”

For more information on the program, contact Somerville Recreation at 617-625-6600 x 2980.