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Sarasota flag football league sanctioned by NFL kicks off

Major Bell goes up to catch a pass as Hunter Richard defends during a game Saturday at Riverview High's Ram Bowl in the BFL Flag Football League. The NFL-sanctioned league plays its games Saturday mornings.

SARASOTA – They’re close enough that letters in their names form Sarasota’s entry into flag football with the backing of the NFL.

But should the BFL Flag Football League succeed, Mike Bruno and Ian Fydell just may become BFFs.

“It all starts here (for future players),” said Bruno, one of the league’s co-owners with the wife of Fydell, who serves on the board. The two coached flag football in New York, moved to the area, and decided to start a league in Sarasota under the auspices of NFL FLAG, the official flag football program of the NFL.

With more than 500,000 youths playing on close to 1,700 team in all 50 states, NFL FLAG in the largest youth flag football league in the country. It’s also the only league in which players can wear official NFL gear. But NFL FLAG mandates that at least 10 miles separate individual leagues; with sanctioned leagues already operating in Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch and Venice, Bruno and Fydell were able to secure theirs in Sarasota.

Mike Bruno and Ian Fydell of the BFL (Bruno and Fydell) Flag Football League. Bruno is a co-owner while Fydell is one of the board members. The league operates under the auspices of NFL FLAG, the official flag football program of the NFL.

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“So far, I gotta say, the response has been great,” Bruno said. “Especially for a brand new league.” Using both new school (social media) and old school (lawn signs) marketing tactics, the two registered 70 youths, ranging from the first grade through the ninth. BFL has pee-wee, junior varsity and varsity divisions, and all played last Saturday morning at the Ram Bowl, which Bruno and Fydell secured for their inaugural season.

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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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