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Clarification on 8-year-old Flag and 8U Tackle

By Bulldogs BOD, 04/10/18, 11:45AM EDT

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Hello parents of 8-year-olds,
 
Below you will find information on 8U Tackle, the new 8yo flag level, and how these changes may impact your child. Hopefully this clears up some questions as we host Registration Night tonight. Please note that the age cutoff for our program is your child's age as of July 31st. 
 
8-year-old Flag Football

Historically, the fall NH AYF flag program was limited to 5, 6, and 7 year olds, with 8-year-old athletes being forced to move on to 8U tackle football. At the end of last season, several families of 7-year-old players asked if NH AYF would consider extending the flag age for one additional year. The Bedford Bulldogs submitted a proposal to the state and the other member towns of NH AFY for approval. The proposal was to create a second level for flag players. Level One would remain for all player age 5, 6, 7 and Level Two would be for players age 7 & 8. The reason for the overlap of age 7 is to allow towns that don't have enough players to create two levels to still offer a flag program, unchanged, for players age 5-7. The great news is that the NH AYF members approved the creation of the second level of flag. 
 
Logistics of Level Two Flag
 
The approval by the state was only the first step. The next step is to make sure we have enough towns with a Level Two team to play against this season. No one would want to play the same town each week, and we are committed to providing an enjoyable season for our players. That said, as of today, we don’t yet have a firm answer about Level Two flag for this upcoming season. 
 
Here is what we do know: We have 6 towns that would like to offer a second level but will not know until registration is closed. There are 11 towns that don't offer flag, or whose program is not large enough to offer flag. Then there are 11 towns that have not responded or are undecided. Our stance is that if we have at least four towns (Bedford + three others) that have a Level Two team, we would proceed with fielding at least one Level Two team in Bedford.  We are very excited at the possibility to be able to offer this for our members, but the fact is that we must rely on other towns to promote this to their families and get enough registrations to make this feasible. We are constantly talking with other towns to keep us up to date on their registration progress. 
 
How does this impact Instructional 8U tackle? 
 
The next logical question is how does this impact the 8U tackle team. Even before we started discussing the expansion of flag football to 8-year-olds over the winter, it was clear that the numbers for 8U tackle for this season were thin, and we began having discussions about what we would do if we could not field a team at that level. This is the reason we have not yet interviewed a head coach for 8U tackle. We did not propose the Level Two flag program in an attempt to eliminate 8U Tackle, but rather to respond to concerns voiced to us by our families. That said, we are committed to offering an 8U tackle program should we get enough registrations at that level.
 
What does this mean for my 8-year-old athlete? 
 
Ultimately, anyone whose child will be 8-years-old as of July 31st will have a choice as to how to register. We have opened registration for both 8-year-old flag as well as 8U tackle, and the registration numbers will determine which programs we offer. To that end, the earlier you register, the earlier we will be able to make a final decision on which teams we will offer. Please understand that our goal is to find the safest, most enjoyable team for your child to be on. But with all of these changes, please also understand that there is a risk that the level you register for may not be available this fall. 
 
When will we know for sure? 
 
With the season starting in Early August, we are giving ourselves a couple months to look at numbers and work with other towns to make a decision. Our registration deadline is June 1st, so we should know what our numbers look like for both Level Two flag as well as 8U tackle, and we’ll know from other towns who will be able to field a team. We will make an official decision shortly thereafter. 
 
If you sign up for 8-year-old flag and we do not have the outside town support to proceed with this program, there may be other options for flag programs outside of Bedford. If you register for 8U tackle and we don’t end up fielding a team at that level, your options would be to move over to the 8-year-old Level Two flag program, or to move up and play 9U tackle. We fully anticipate having individual discussions with impact families in July, and are prepared to move players where they will thrive and where they and their parents will be most comfortable. 
 
Registration Details
 
As mentioned above, please try to register your child as soon as possible, so that we can start to formulate a plan as we see the numbers. Registration information can be found on our website (http://www.bedfordbulldogs.org/reg), and our Registration and Paperwork Drop-Off event is tonight from 6:30-8:30 at McKelvie School. There will be board members available to answer any questions you might have, though we hope the information above helps clear up any confusion. 
 
Ultimately our job as a youth sports organization is to ensure safety, education, and fun within the boundaries of football and cheer. We are doing our best to respond to questions and concerns with 8U Tackle football, and are committed to finding the right team for every child in our program. 
 
Sincerely,
 
-Bulldogs BOD