DALLAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) – The sound of a whistle pierced the crisp evening air at the Alfred J. Loos Sports Complex in Addison.
On the field, a team of Dallas ISD coaches gathered into a huddle, intently listening to NFL trainers review strategy.
“We’re gonna come up,” one trainer is heard shouting as he demonstrated a specific play. “We’re gonna get 10 – boom! You’re in!”
Across town, inside the Gill Elementary school gym in Dallas, physical education teacher, Elijah Lee, got his team of fourth and fifth graders ready for the day’s game.
“Make sure you get a nice stretch; you’re going to do some running, so make sure you get a nice stretch,” said Lee.
Coaching is an ageless practice. It transcends generational boundaries and offers valuable guidance at any stage of life. Coaching is to football as the sport is to strategy; it’s more than a game – it’s a playbook for life.
“As you start to play, you got more comfortable; and the team started working together and we start celebrating successes,” Lee told his team of pint-sized players.
“It’s about being a part of something bigger than themselves,” shared Charlotte Jones, Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer of the Dallas Cowboys. “When they have a chance to play sports, to play with each other, they learn respect, they learn discipline, and they learn what it means to work hard and also to play fun.”
Play fun is the goal behind NFL Flag – the largest youth league in the country for kids between four to 17-years-old. “This teaches me discipline, not to be scared of anything,” Gille Elementary 5th grader Ayden Walker said.
Flag football is a level-playing field; a place where boys and girls of all abilities can learn the game in an inclusive environment. “Since I’m tiny, I have short legs,” 4th grader Giselle Campos explained. “So, if someone’s running towards me, and they’re going [reaching for my flag], I can just run under.”
NFL Flag is a program Jones and the Dallas Cowboys proudly support. The organization has teamed up with Dallas ISD to provide the program in its schools. “We believe in the ability of our sport to not only teach them healthy habits, but also give them the confidence and courage to look for the best in themselves and to reach their full potential.”
Success that’s measured not in yards, but in lessons learned from the game.
“Mentally, it gives them a break from their everyday stress in the classroom,” said Lee. “But, it incorporates things they can take back into the classroom to be successful.”
“I try to grab somebody’s flag, then I miss, darn it! I’ll get you next time,” 4th grader Dylan Lam said of his involvement and takeaways from the sport.
Flag football’s popularity has grown significantly over the years. The sport is set to make its debut in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.