Youth sports have much to offer our children – a sense of belonging, opportunities to build character and an enjoyable means to stay physically fit. The game of football in particular is often cited as “the ultimate team sport”, from which countless lessons on teamwork, responsibility and achievement are gained. This being said, North Atlanta Football League understands and appreciates growing parental concern over the safety of youth sports, in particular the high-profile topic of sports-related concussions amongst young athletes. NAFL Board members are moms and dads themselves, and recognize that there is nothing more important than the well-being of our children.
NAFL administers a progressive and comprehensive Player Safety Program, covering all age levels in the flag football, tackle football and cheer programs. As a certified league in USA Football’s “Heads Up Football” initiative, the coaching staffs of each of NAFL’s teams are annually re-certified for critical player safety training such as “Heads Up Tackling” (a program teaching the fundamentals of safe tackling technique), heat and hydration awareness, and concussion prevention, recognition and response. Among the greatest dangers to young athletes is the risk of practicing or playing with an undiagnosed concussion, or returning to the field of play too soon after sustaining a concussion. Recognizing this, our entire concussion awareness program is geared toward immediate recognition and appropriate response. In the event of a concussion, nafl follows strict return-to-play guidelines and our player safety personnel oversee a progressive return-to-play protocol under the guidance of the athlete’s physician.
Each team in NAFL has a designated Safety Coach responsible for reinforcing elements of the Player Safety Program, and granted with the authority to remove a player from the field of play at any time for evaluation. Above and beyond annual certification, NAFL provides all Safety Coaches with additional tools and training to aid in the recognition of concussions. For the 2015 fall season, every Safety Coach will have at their disposal the King-Devick Test, the leading sideline concussion screening test used extensively in collegiate and professional athletics. This tool will allow our Safety Coaches, at practice or on game day, to make a quick, objective sideline evaluation on whether a player should be removed from play.
Additionally, NAFL will provide for pre-season baseline testing of players, administered by the Sports Concussion Institute. Baseline testing is an important part of concussion treatment, as it provides physicians with an objective measurement of a player’s neurocognitive abilities pre-injury. SCI will administer our testing using a tool called ImPACT – the leading such assessment tool commonly used at the high school, collegiate and professional levels.
All of these safety components, and more, are included in NAFL’s registration fee. (For more information, click here to register online or visit our website at http://www.nafl.club/default.aspx). NAFL is proud to be leading the way in player safety for youth football programs, and strives to impart positive life lessons taught by football and cheerleading in a fun and safe environment. AFYA rebranded their name to NAFL (North Atlanta Football League). With the growth and emergence of several high schools in North Fulton County, NAFL is excited to announce that starting this Fall 2015, it will be aligning with Alpharetta, Cambridge and Milton High Schools, which mirrors the Pop Warner model that is prevalent nationwide. As has always been a tradition, players from out of town are welcome and will continue to be a part of NAFL’s mix. Flag Players in K – 4th and Tackle players from 2nd thru 5th grade will play for the high school district in which they reside. Raiders and Eagles and Bears….oh my!
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Original article posted May 29, 2014. Updated April 2015.