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Families praise flag football

Flag football is in full swing in Russellville with more than 80 children participating this year – the biggest year for participation Parks and Rec Director Chad Sears has ever seen.

“I just want to offer something to the kids who don’t want to play tackle football to have fun and compete in a non-contact sport,” said Sears, adding that the program has seen growth each year since it began five years ago.

A number of parents have their children in flag football as a precursor to tackle.

“It’s a lot safer for these young kids,” said Josh Cochran, whose son Maddox, 8, has played both flag and tackle. Cochran said sports are great for his son because they “keep him in shape, get him off the couch, let him interact with other kids and teach him how to play with a team.”

Josh Willis’ son Shiloh, 9, is playing flag football for the third season this year.

“I want him to develop more before he plays tackle football,” Willis said. “It’s low contact – minimal contact – no contact, actually. He loves being around all the kids and having fun.”

The Boutwell family is heavily involved in flag football. Greta Boutwell’s sons both play, and her husband coaches.

“They are learning the skills they need to learn to play football, but they’re not being tackled. It’s safer,” she said. The Boutwells agreed they want their sons to be middle school age before taking on tackle football.

“When they’re young they don’t realize the repercussions of some of their actions on the field,” explained Mike Boutwell, detailing the importance of learning the fundamentals and the right way to tackle. Boutwell has also coached basketball and baseball for Russellville Parks and Rec. “I enjoy coaching all the kids, not just mine. I enjoy coaching all of them … “It keeps them out of a lot of trouble – and out from in front of them T.V. Both of my boys play, and I just coach because I enjoy spending time with them.”

Sears said his department looks for flag football to continue to succeed and continue to grow. He one day hopes to offer an adult league.

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