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Youth flag football league player evaluations set for tomorrow in Pleasanton

PJFL non-contact division focuses on fun, development, competition, safety

Registration is underway for the 2016 season of the Pleasanton Junior flag football league with player evaluations set for June 11 at Hart Middle School.

Practices are set to start in mid-August, with the league jamboree to follow Sept. 10 before games run from Sept. 17 to Oct. 31.

Interest in organized flag football continues to grow in Pleasanton from where it began two decades ago.

The Pleasanton league, created in 1996, now draws hundreds of Pleasanton and Tri-Valley children and teens to the gridiron annually for a version of America's most popular sport that has far less physical contact, but is just as competitive.

"PJFL flag is a great league and a fun and safe way for boys and girls to learn about and play 'real' football in an organized way without a bunch of stress," league board member Mark Hoffman said, with the new flag season set to get underway this summer.

"There are many kids that want to play fun, recreational football, and our flag division is a great outlet for that," Hoffman added.

Unlike the PJFL traditional tackle football league, players in the flag division stop ball carriers by removing their flag-adorned belts. There are other differences in rules and game play, but the key objectives for the flag league remain the same as those of youth tackle divisions, according to league representatives.

"Our league focuses on the three elements of recreation (fun), development and competition," board member Brendan St. John said. "We have rules that direct for balanced playing time and encourage coaches in the lower levels to give players a shot at all positions if the player is interested."

The flag league, which plays in the fall and drew 450 players last year, divides participants into four age groups: junior (second and third grade), intermediate (fourth and fifth grade), senior (middle school) and varsity (high school).

The league doesn't travel and most players are Pleasanton youth, but the league does have some players from Dublin, Danville, San Ramon, Livermore and Sunol, according to St. John.

Games feature eight players per side in two halves with a running clock. It incorporates blocking, running and passing, but there are no kick-offs, no fumbles and no head-first diving as part of its safety rules.

The flag league also focuses on making each division and every team as competitive as possible, according to St. John. "Kids have more fun when they're not getting trounced by other teams every Saturday," he said.

PJFL is also recruiting participants and volunteers for its contact football and cheer leagues. For more information, visit www.pjfl.com/

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