BY GENE NARDI
Last Saturday morning, the sun wasn’t the only thing heating up Wellington’s football fields.
More than 500 players from ages 6 to 15 burned up the turf, showing their stuff during the Western Communities Football League’s annual player combine at Village Park on Pierson Road.
The purpose of the combine is to evaluate each player’s attributes for the game, from sprinting to catching the pigskin. Once the players are evaluated, they are rated and placed on the eligibility list for the league’s draft, to form the teams for the fall season. “We had a total of 515 players come out for this event today,” WCFL League Manager Gus Pasquale said.
The WCFL is made up of five divisions, from the Ultimate, ages 6-7, to the High School Prep division, ages 14-15. The league will begin practicing Tuesday, Aug. 5 to allow teams time to prepare for their season opener Saturday, Aug. 23.
The league also has a cheerleading program that supports the teams and provides year-round recreational and competitive events for girls. The cheerleaders cheer during the games each Saturday.
“We’re a Heads-Up-certified organization,” WCFL President Nick Iannone noted.
The Heads-Up program is sponsored by the National Football League and promotes concussion awareness, specializing in improving tackling techniques to reduce the risk of concussions to the players.
“Our organization is in compliance with USA Football, and all of our coaches must attend training to obtain certification from the National Youth Sports Coaches Association to make the game safer for the kids,” Iannone said.
The WCFL plays a full season with a playoff system in place for post-season play. After the league’s Super Bowl, the league will participate in the Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance. The 23-year-old event gives teams the opportunity to compete at a higher level, with televised games.
The WCFL also competes in all-star games in the post-season with other Palm Beach County organizations.
For more WCFL information, visit www.wcflfootballcheer.com.
ABOVE: WCFL President Nick Iannone and his son Phillip during the combine.