ROCKVILLE – As the Rockville Football League’s (RFL) spring 7-on-7 games enter the final week of the regular season, some parents are looking toward the fall season and beginning to wonder if they should allow their children to continue playing tackle football.
This week’s 9-and-under games featured the green team facing off against the gray team and the red team meeting the black team. The green team shot ahead early and earned a wire-to-wire 31-6 victory with key contributions from twin 9-year-olds Landon and Weston Heard, who combined made 25 points.
While Landon and Weston both want to play football in the fall, that decision is up to their mother, Tina Heard. Despite football being the boys’ favorite sport, Heard may not let them suit up their first tackle season this fall.
Heard said the primary factor in her decision will be if she can get the boys, along with their sister, to their respective sports practices and games.While Heard admitted concern about concussions she said that she felt her children were safe in the RFL.
“The RFL is a really good league and they really do strive for safety,” Heard said.
This sentiment was echoed in statements of multiple parents, including Juan Abreu, whose 9-year-old son Carlos has been playing tackle football for three years.
“Of course there is concern [regarding concussions], but the coaches have taught them good fundamentals, tackling, keeping their heads up,” Abreu said. “Accidents happen, but they’re getting taught the fundamentals, which is what we care about.”
While the score was not close, both coaches focused on the skills the kids develop from playing football rather than the final numbers.
“The learning experience and getting down the fundamentals [is best for the kids]. You have to crawl, walk, run in these kind of things,” said gray team coach Chaz Love.
During his post-game speech green team coach Don Rondeau noted effort as being the key to success not only in football but in life. He told the kids that they must try hard not only on the football field but in math class and cleaning their rooms.
“[Our coach always tells us to] try our best and have fun,” the Heard twins said.
Guy Stefanelli, director of RFL spring football, was pleased to hear that parents felt their children were safe in the RFL. According to Stefanelli, the league has taken multiple steps to ensure the players’ safety, including having all coaches take a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concussion training program, having parents take an online course about concussions and partnering with USA Football’s Heads Up program.
The RFL will host their annual We Hit Camp this summer. The camp focuses on teaching proper fundamentals in tackling and blocking so that players are less likely to get injured.