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Flag football makes its Alabama State Games debut | Local - FlagSpin

Flag football makes its Alabama State Games debut | Local

Jason Bodden coached a group of flag football players Saturday morning he met shortly before the game and planned to attend a wedding several hours later.

It’s understandable a bit of frustration started setting in as he tried to direct the 14-under age division team at Northcutt Field in Dothan as part of the Alabama State Games.

“The only reason I’m doing it is to give back to the kids so they would have the opportunity to have fun,” Bodden said. “Even when the game was over, I said no matter what happens, have fun … because I could see some of them were getting frustrated.”

Flag football, one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, is being held as part of the State Games for the first time this weekend. More than 30 teams were participating in five different age divisions from not only Alabama, but also neighboring states such as Georgia and Florida.

Bodden was set to coach an 8-under team he’s been working with, but was asked to take over the 14U team from Dothan when he arrived Saturday morning.

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“What happened is whoever was coaching this 14U team … I guess whatever coach was going to do it, ended up not being able to do it,” Bodden said. “They said they needed a coach for the game, and I said, ‘OK, I’ll try to help out.’

“Honestly, I just met everybody when we walked in. Look at this … I’ve got six plays I drew with a pen. My goal right now for this 14U team is to just get them to learn this stuff for tomorrow (Sunday). I don’t care about today.

“By tomorrow we have this stuff down pat where I’ve got a playbook and a foundation to where I can call a play from the sideline and they can transform automatically into it.”

Learning on the go isn’t uncommon for the newcomers of flag football. Even some of the officials, who are used to calling traditional football, are asking questions.

“If they blitz, quarterback can run, right?” a referee asks David Mosley, who is the state director of NFL Flag Alabama, which oversees flag football for the state.

Mosley, who lives in Dothan, has seen the sport skyrocket in recent years and believes the future is extremely bright. Partnering with the Alabama State Games is another move forward, as was the Alabama High School Athletic Association sanctioning girls flag football as an AHSAA sport this past year.

“The best thing about flag football is it’s for every kid,” Mosley said. “You don’t have to be the fastest; you don’t have to be the strongest. There’s a kid out here today that’s got scoliosis. There’s a kid out here with braces on his leg, but everybody can come together for the sport.”

David Martin is the head of officials for the local flag football league and says it’s not too difficult for traditional football officials to learn the rules of flag football. The younger age divisions play 5-on-5 and the older divisions 7-on-7.

“A lot of it parallels football; there are just minor changes,” Martin said. “Obviously there’s no contact; it’s just the flag pull. A lot of the signals are the same and a lot of the penalties are the same. Honestly, the changeover from regular football to flag football is minimal.”

Still, it’s been hard to find officials at times, which is the case for most sports. Martin oversees assignment of the officials. There are around 30 teams who have been competing over the past two seasons of youth flag football in Dothan.

“I’ve had four (officials) that have been steady for the last two seasons and that’s what we use on Sunday (regular season games) is four,” Martin said.

He pointed over to an official who was calling a flag football game for the first time on Saturday.

“This guy’s first time he’s ever done flag, but he’s a football official, so the transition is not tough,” Martin said.

Martin believes the sport will continue to blossom in the area and throughout the state.

“It’s growing because there’s less chance of injury,” Martin said. “Mama’s not nearly concerned since it’s strictly non-contact.”

Chelsey Hoskins of Centerville, Ga., took photos as her son, Noah, played for the Wartown Flight Squad 10-under club team.

“He absolutely loves it,” Hoskins said. “This is his first season playing and he got asked to join the Flight Squad for travel.”

As games in various age divisions took place on Northcutt Field, Mosley took pride in the sport being part of the Alabama State Games.

“What you see here is what we want to do for the community,” Mosley said. “We’ve got teams from Florida, teams from Georgia … economic input, heads in beds staying overnight. We just want to bring more to the economy of Dothan.”

Flag football games continue Sunday as the Alabama State Games, which features a variety of Olympic-style sports and has been held for 39 years throughout the state, wraps up its second straight year and fifth overall as the Wiregrass being a host site.

Other sports which will also complete on Sunday in Dothan are soccer (Westgate) and 12U baseball (James Oates Park).

For more information on the Alabama State Games, go to

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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