August 31, 2004 > FFL Celebrates 40 Years of Football
FFL Celebrates 40 Years of Football
Opening Ceremonies at Tak Stadium on September 4th
by Praveena Raman
The Fremont Football League (FFL), a non-profit organization run by volunteers consisting of parents, business and community leaders, will be celebrating its 40th anniversary on September 4th at Washington High School's Tak Stadium. The league was formed in 1964 by Oakland Raider Fred "The Hammer" Williamson and Leonard Ohms to teach youths, age 8 through 14, football skills in a healthy and safe environment. Some of the players in the league have made it to the professional level.
There are fourteen teams divided into two divisions, the National Division consisting of eight teams and the American Division consisting of six teams. The divisions are formed not only by age but also have weight limits. The players in the National Division are 8-12 year old youth and those in the American Division are 11-14 year olds. The lighter 11 and 12 year-olds play in the National Division while the heavier youth play in the American Division. Each of the teams have about 30-35 players. The players are given uniforms and safety gear except for cleats and cups.
The League season begins in September and culminates with a post season All Star Game played against teams in other leagues on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. National Division teams include: 49ers, Rams, Redskins, Steelers, Buccaneers, Eagles, Falcons, and Bills while the American Division hosts: Broncos, Raiders, Patriots, Vikings, Bears, and Jets. Most of the teams practice in Fremont except for two that practice in Newark. All division games are played at Irvington Community Park. The final All Star Game has been played against the Pleasanton Football League in the past couple of years.
A cheerleading program compliments the players on the field and is divided into the same divisions and then to squads. Girls between the ages of 8 and 14 are accepted into the program and assigned to a squad through a blind draft so that all squads have an equal number of girls. All girls are encouraged to try out for the High School cheerleading program when they are in the 8th grade. Though the majority of the cheerleaders are from the Tri-City area, some come from Hayward. All practices are held in Fremont and Newark.
According to Karen Hart, Fremont Football League Cheer Director, "90% of our cheerleaders that try-out for high-school are placed on a high school squad. Some have even gone on to become college cheerleaders. Most of our cheer coaches are previous FFL cheerleaders that also cheer for high school. These girls attend school, attend their cheer practice and then come to our practice to teach their squad." Many of these high school girls have participated in the league for more than five years. The League also has an All Star Competition Squad consisting of 20-25 girls form the individual squads. The girls have try-outs to be accepted into this squad and the instruction at this level is quite a bit more detailed than regular season activities. The All Star Squad competes in National competitions and have, in the past, competed at Disneyland, UOP and Universal Studios.
Of particular note among the coaching staff is Brad Samuels Sr. who is not only the head coach of the Redskins but also the Vice President on the league's Board of Directors. Even though he was tragically robbed of his eyesight in an accident a few years ago, he still gives a lot of himself to the kids and the community. "Brad is a very inspirational person and I have learned a lot from being around him," says Elliot Pinck, Executive Manager for the Fremont Football League.
In the past few weeks, Brad Samuels has spent a lot of time researching the league's history and organizing the 40 year celebration that will also mark the opening of the league's football season. The event will take place from 10 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Saturday September 4th at the Tak Stadium at Washington High School. This extravaganza will feature an opening parade, carnival games, cheer performances, guest speakers, pro-athlete appearances, football games, and a vast array of delicious food.
More information about Fremont Football League and the celebration can be found at http://www.fremontfootballonline.com or by calling (510) 651-6312.