Flint, MI– For the past four Saturdays, about 70 children from Flint and Genesee County have gotten up bright and early to play flag football at Iroquois park. 

Flintstone Elite Flag Football and the Flint Police Activities League (PAL) partnered to kick off a free NFL Flag Football League at the beginning of July. 

NFL’s Manager of Player Engagement Jashell Mitchell said the children have been having a blast, and learning about more than just football.

Flint youth participate in an NFL-sponsored flag football game at Iroquois Park on the north side on July 24, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Parents and loved ones gather on the sidelines at Iroquois Park to cheer on the kids playing flag football on July 24, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Flint youth participate in an NF- sponsored flag football game at Iroquois Park on the north side on July 24, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Flint resident Michael Vaughn, 53, poses for a photo with his flag football team, the Buccaneers July 24, 2021 at Iroquois Park on the north side. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

“Sports teaches camaraderie and teaches health and wellness, which is what we’re about, and research shows when students participate in sports, it kind of helps them make better decisions down the line,” she said. “It teaches critical thinking, teamwork and how to fight through adversity. So it’s definitely a great opportunity for them to learn as much as they possibly can while participating in their hometown.”

She this was part of a bigger push to reignite programming for youth in Flint. 

“You know for getting kids out the house, getting them off their tablets, off their computers, and out of the A.C. and outside,” Mitchell said. 

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday starting on July 10, children ages 6-13 years old have played in the presence of their parents, volunteers, and occasionally some special guests.

Mayor Sheldon Neeley and Police Chief Terence Green have been in attendance, and last Saturday, Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver K.J. Osborn stopped by.

“He came by and huddled up the kids and spoke to them briefly about how to be a good teammate, how to continue to prepare yourself, how to continue to train mentally and be the best that you could possibly be on and off the field,” Mitchell said. “So that was a much needed blessing.” 

Mitchell said this was the first time NFL flag football has been in Flint, but it won’t be the last. 

“Everything’s been going awesome. The kids have been really really enjoying it, so this is not intended to be a one and done,” she said.

Mitchell said they’re intending to have another season in the fall. 

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...