The desire to lace up their cleats, the perseverance to learn, and the love of the game led these ten eight-year-old boys to the NFL Flag football AFC Championship. “It’s been a great learning experience,” said Tyrone Goodson, head coach for the 8u Green Bay Packers NFL Flag football team.
While this is the first season for Goodson coaching flag football, he owes getting involved to his son. “It was Tyrone Jr. who wanted to get his first bite- getting to learn football other than through the camps I organized in Brooksville,” Goodson said.
On Sunday, April 3, the heat was on for Goodson’s team to push towards a victory, to become the ‘Super Bowl Champions,’ but first they had to compete against the Steelers in Sunday’s playoff bracket. The Packers and Steelers had to break their 4-3 standing to move forward, and once the snap was in motion, the focus was getting to the AFC Championship game.
The Packers beat the Steelers 24-6 and set up a big competition against the Philadelphia Eagles. Green Bay held them off in the first half only to succumb to a powerful offense – Packers 0 Philadelphia Eagles 20.
“The main objective, right now, I am trying to teach them a lot of fundamental skills,” Goodson said. At this age, bringing youth into tackle football may have more demands on the body during their development stage. Flag football is a way for kids to build that strength and coordination. Goodson stated, “It helps a lot of kids with hand-eye coordination. They have to learn to catch and run the ball. It’s easier to tackle than to grab your flag. With flag football there is more concentration.”
Steve Rhem, co-director for the NFL Flag football league in Marion County stated, “The beautiful thing about flag (football) is it doesn’t take a 40 or 50 man roster. We have ten kids on the roster here, five-play on offense, and five on defense, so everyone plays. I think the lower risk of injury is what’s key.”
Rhem is a local football player himself. He played in the NFL Pro league with the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles. “I actually grew up playing on this same field as an 11-12-year-old,” Rhem said. “I wanted to reach out to more kids and teach them the game of football in a safe way. This is a great way to learn and meet new friends, and it’s been a success. We are doing our part to help the community.” Elected All Pro Players for the 2022 Season are Tyrone Goodson Jr., Javon Dowdy, Sincere Lopez, and Cayden Hope.