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Registration kicks off for fall flag football league

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A National Football League hall of famer and Super Bowl champion for the Oakland Raiders spoke to a group of about 100 kids in Ronan last week. Howie Long explained some of the positive benefits of playing football. 

“I think football teaches a lot of great values,” said Long. “Playing football at any level teaches you skills and gives you a base that I think will serve you well for the rest of your life.”

Long was the surprise special guest during a meet-and-greet barbeque event hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County on Tuesday evening, Aug. 6. The event was held to attract more kids to register for the inaugural Mission Valley Flag Football League program.

“I am a big advocate of football,” Long said. “Football teaches hard work, selflessness, the ability to function as a team member and respect for both your teammates and your opponents. I think those are great teaching points for anyone participating in youth sports.”

The league will begin on Sept. 2 and run until Oct. 12 with games played Saturday mornings and early afternoons on various football fields throughout the Mission Valley. The league is currently accepting applications for boys and girls who are currently in grades third through sixth. Sign-ups can be completed online through the Boys and Girls Club website at

The Warrior Movement sponsored the event in partnership with the National Football League for boys and girls throughout the Mission Valley. When the competition starts, children will get a fun and safe atmosphere to engage in continuous non-contact football action, while learning lessons in dedication, teamwork, sportsmanship and discipline.

“It’s a big thing for the kids to have fun, have a ball,” Long said. “You don’t have to (tackle) people until further down the road. Just having an opportunity to participate in something like this can change a kid’s life. I have seen it. I have lived it personally.” 

Flag football is a non-contact version of tackle football where young players develop their passing, catching and defending skills. The difference between the two versions of the game is that ball carriers are downed by pulling off a flag from a belt instead of by tackling.

“The biggest thing at this point is we want the kids to learn the fundamentals and fall in love with the game of football without worrying about getting banged up,” said Aric Cooksley, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County. “At the end of the day, we want to make sure kids have opportunities to do positive things that will help them learn skills that are applicable for the long term and give them opportunities to do things they haven’t been able to do in this community prior to this.”

The current cost for this program is $20 per player and includes a pair of Under Armor receiver gloves, a reversible team jersey with NFL team colors and logos and a NFL belt with flags. Adult volunteer coaches and referees are needed and are encouraged to sign up to ensure a successful season. 

“We need coaches and referees,” said Mission Valley Flag Football League program organizer Devon Cox. “If you are saying, ‘I didn’t play football, and I don’t know that much about the game,’ or it’s been a little while since you have played, don’t be intimidated. The NFL Flag program gives us a lot of resources. It’s a really good program that covers everything from football skills, strategy and how to handle concussions and injuries.” 

If interested in volunteering, you can sign up when registering your child for the program or contact the Boys and Girls Club office at 406-676-5437.

In other club news, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation donated $200,000 for the development of the new Polson facility across from the Polson Middle School on the corner of 2nd Street W. and 17th Avenue.  


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