Surrey-area kids are learning the game of flag football in an NFL-branded program.
Saturday sessions of NFL Flag are held at Robson Park on 100 Avenue, and also at a park in Coquitlam.
It’s part of what’s billed as “the largest youth flag football league in North America,” according to a post on nflflagvan.ca.
The cost to get involved in NFL Flag Vancouver is $299 per child. “Right Choice Athletics is a nonprofit organization with a goal of removing the financial barriers that typically prevent kids from signing up for youth sports,” a webpost notes.
A call to a phone number on the website was answered by Rochon Bhattacharya, who said he runs the Surrey and Coquitlam programs with business partner Bashiru Sise Odaa.
“We’ve been running this program since summer, starting at Tom Binnie Park right next to the BC Lions facility (in Whalley), where a couple of BC Lions players came and helped out, said some inspiring words to the kids, motivational stuff,” Bhattacharya told the Now-Leader.
Flag football has grown in popularity in recent years. The number of kids involved aged six to 12 has increased by 38 per cent, to more than 1.5 million, since 2015, according to the NFL Flag website, a portal for more than 2,000 leagues in North America.
“The first thing we focus on is how the game of football works,” Bhattacharya explained. “We’ll get into learning the game, what a huddle is, what a quarterback is, what are the positions, then get into the fundamentals of the game and then we have games for about seven weeks.”
Back in 2018 Bhattacharya signed to play football at SFU following games at West Hills College in Coalinga, California. In high school he played with New Westminster Hyacks a decade ago.
At Robson Park there were close to 45 kids participating on the first day of NFL Flag, according to Bhattacharya.
“In Coquitlam we had another 45 kids,” he noted. “Our goal is around 100 kids, and we’ll probably cap it at that. Kids can still sign up right now, and we’ll start games soon. We do summer and fall programs like this, and camps in the spring.”