GAME ON: Youngstown Youth Flag Football Association

Even Elliott Giles, Youngstown Youth Flag Football Association (YYFFA) president, is surprised by the booming interest in his league.

When the league debuted in Fall 2007, 80 children played. Last year, there were 200. This fall, Giles is hoping for 300.

“Fall season starts Sept. 13 and runs seven Sundays — six weeks of the regular season and the seventh week is the playoff,” Giles said during last weekend’s Youngstown Youth Sports (Y2Sports) tournament at Boardman High School.

Age divisions are 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12.

Watching an 11-12 team warm up, Giles noted players from Columbiana, Canfield, Springfield, Youngstown and Lisbon.

“It’s a big mixture of kids,” Giles said.

YYFFA runs leagues in the spring and fall. Giles said the spring program had about 550 players from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

He said the fall league has fewer participants because there are tackle programs and other fall flag leagues.

“Our goal for this fall is about 300,” Giles said.

“Lucky” Penny of Youngstown has been a coach since the league began because he wants to inspire his son, Cameron.

Penny called flag football a great way to counter “being lazy with video games all the time.

“A lot of kids are talented but they have no guidance or direction so I try to be that light, show them that there are other things to do out there than negativity,” Penny said.

And the league is not just for boys, something Sandi Kohler of Springfield Township appreciates.

“For him to open this up for girls is great,” said Kohler whose daughter Bree plays. “My daughter can go out there and learn how to play against guys. This is a skill game where they have to be able to catch and pass.

“The [teenage] girls who play like guys are leaps and bounds ahead. I was excited when she had this opportunity.”

For information, call Giles at (330) 559-1272 or visit the Web site

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