SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- "Good defense, Bears!"
"Let's line up, 49ers."
"Good job, Lions."
The Scotch Plains-Fanwood PAL flag football season kicked off on Sunday at SPFHS varsity field with three divisions, including a new 4th-5th-6th grade group.
"Some of these kids are playing football for the first time," said Bruce Moran, VP of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood PAL and the organization's Director of Football Operations. "We're giving them an opportunity to be outside, get out of the basement, and stay out of trouble."
The teams are coached by police officers and volunteer dads, who patiently point the players into positions, help them reattach their flags after each play, and keep the games moving. At the youngest levels, scores and standings are not kept. Each team gets to run 10 plays and then the offense and defense switch.
Flag football has grown in popularity in recent years, according to Moran. It gives newer players a chance to learn the game.
"We expanded to include the 4th through 6th grade level. Next year, we may look to bring it up to high school age level," Moran explained. "In Westfield, the program goes through high school, and if you go to Tamaques Park, it's packed with kids playing flag football."
The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Police Athletic League (PAL) was founded in 1991 as a volunteer organization. It aims to develop a friendly relationship between youngster and police officers and a spirit of respect for the law. The PAL emphasizes skill development, personal growth, and fun for for pre-high school boys and girls from both Scotch Plains and Fanwood. It runs youth football, flag football, girls softball, volleyball and cheerleading programs, and its volunteer coaches and administrators are police officers and other dedicated individuals who care about kids.