The National Football League is set to host its annual NFL FLAG football Summit in July, and have given the opportunity to Elizabethtown Flag Football League president Danny Payne to teach the ways of running a flag football league.
The NFL FLAG summit is held annually for all league operators across the nation to come in and talk about best practices and marketing ideas, as well as learn about new initiatives aimed to better support and expand NFL FLAG.
Last year, the NFL hosted the summit in New Orleans alongside the New Orleans Saints.
This time around, Payne will be making the trip to Atlanta to speak at the summit and represent Elizabethtown alongside the Atlanta Falcons.
“The league is growing fast. Our league being represented at the NFL summit and being asked to speak is a huge accomplishment,” Payne said. “We are doing something right, and our community has stepped up and supported us.”
NFL FLAG is the largest youth flag football program in the U.S., serving more than 1,600 teams and 600,000 youth athletes across all 50 states.
While still a relatively young league at three years running, the EFFL has grown from 154 athletes in 2021 to 445 participants last season for a 189% year over year growth.
The EFFL was recognized as, by population, the fastest growing league the NFL has.
“I don’t have some kind of secret sauce, I can just tell you what we do to attract kids and families to our league,” Payne said.
Some of the reason the EFFL has experienced their massive growth has been their ability to give their kids a perfect combination of competition and fun.
“The kids can just play and can learn football without the fear of pads and helmets,” Payne said. “Every player is a skill position, its five-on-five football, and everybody has an opportunity to run, catch or throw.
The league provides a unique learning opportunity, Payne said.
“It’s been a really cool way to introduce football to kids who haven’t played before, but also maybe those kids that aren’t good enough to play high school football or junior high football, have a lot of fun playing in our older leagues, too,” he said.
The league offers all the excitement and action of football, without the price of serious injury and helmet-to-helmet collisions.
The EFFL attributes their marketing schemes to some of their growth, live streaming of its games on Tuesdays and Thursdays on Facebook Live, as well as sharing highlights to its YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram platforms to get the word out.
“We put so much effort in trying to share the kids’ accomplishments,” Payne said. “I never knew how important it would be for parents to be able to say, ‘Look at Johnny throw, look at Johnny run, look at Johnny catch.’ ”
The EFFL just concluded its third season in May and opens registration in November.
The league is open to children aged pre-k through high school, with last year’s season holding five divisions.
“We break up the divisions based on the number of kids that register,” Payne said. “This past year we had five divisions; Pre-K and K were their own division, then a first and second grade division, a third and fourth grade division, a fifth and sixth grade division, and a seventh through 10th grade division.”
The league is co-ed, with girls encouraged to join in on the fun.
All games are played at the Elizabethtown Sports Park.