“To do things you’ve never done before, you have to do things you’ve never done before.”
– Sean Payton, Head Coach New Orleans Saints, winner of Super Bowl XLIV
“There is only one way to succeed in anything…and that is to give it everything.”
– Vince Lombardi, Head Coach Green Bay Packers, winner of Super Bowls I & II, namesake of the Super Bowl trophy
The primary purpose of the AFI Youth Football League is introduction to the sport and basic skill development of youth players in a fun and safe environment. The Youth League will prepare young players to compete at the senior level.
No prior American Football experience is required. Youth coaches across the league will ensure players receive the proper training to safely and effectively participate in the sport. Many of the sporting skills acquired in traditional mainstream sports of Ireland are transferable to American Football. Even if a player has no previous sporting experience, youth coaches will make sure the player is prepared before stepping onto the pitch.
Age Requirements: Eligible players must have reached 15 years of age to participate in AFI sanctioned youth competitive games. Players who are 17 on January 1st or later of the current football season year are eligible to play in that year; even after turning 18.
Example #1: Player X turns 18 years old on January 2nd, 2021. Player X is eligible to participate in the 2021 youth football season.
Example #2: Player Y turns 18 years old on December 31st, 2020. Player Y is NOT eligible to participate in the 2021 youth football season. Player Y should participate in senior level football. Senior level’s minimum age is 18.
Child Safeguarding: All coaches directly involved with the AFI Youth Football League are vetted by either the Garda or AccessNI and have received the appropriate level of Child Safeguarding training. As the National Governing Body (NGB) of American Football in Ireland, the AFI governing board has appointed a trained Child Protection Officer to oversee the AFI Child Safeguarding Policy that clubs within the association must comply with.
Youth Season Calendar: Each associated club will run their training schedules differently but, generally clubs with a youth program will begin training no later than September. Competitive games are generally scheduled for October and potentially early November.
Games Format: Normally, American football is played with 22 players on the field (11 on each team). To better train youth players in Ireland the AFI has adopted a reduced player format. Depending on the amount of opposing teams’ player numbers, competition will occur in a 7 vs. 7, 8 vs. 8, or 9 vs. 9 formats. Additionally, some of the rules concerning special teams have been modified in the interest of player safety.
AFI will utilize the blitz format for game day. Blitzes gather 3 or more teams together to play a minimum of 2 games each. The games have reduced time lengths. This will provide players with more game experience that facilitates essential skill development.
Questions: If you are interested parent or youth player don’t hesitate to contact the Director of Youth Football for more information with our contact form here.