January 12, 2007
The Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department kicks off a new program in 2007 to improve youth football in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The program includes a Youth Football Coordinator funded by a $50,000 a year, three year grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation used the grant to hire the coordinator, Akida ("Ah-KEE-da") Jordan, to work on the following goals:
· Coach Development: A program to recruit, train and certify coaches
· Officials Development: Ways to recruit, train and certify game officials
· Health and Safety: Efforts to improve fields and equipment
· League Administration: Measures to better coordinate and administer league play
The program goals are the result of two years of study by the National Football League (NFL) and USA Football on how to increase quality and participation in youth football. The program applies to both tackle and flag football leagues of all organizations that run youth football in Mecklenburg County. Money for the program came through USA Football, established by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
Akida Jordan was previously Adult and Youth Sports Director for the High Point YMCA. He has a degree in sports management. While not a coach himself, it is his job to establish the program using volunteers and professionals with experience in football at various levels. Jordan, now a Recreation Coordinator Supervisor in Park and Recreation, will also survey all football facilities, project future needs, and recommend additional facilities when and where needed. He will become an "advocate" for football within the department, create a database of football resources, and a organize steering committee of citizens to help expand and develop football programs.
"A major goal for the department is to certify every youth football coach over the next three years," says Greg Jackson, Park and Recreation's Manager of Park Operations. "This certification will include taking coaches through a training program that teaches them age appropriate development skills, basic principles of first aid and safety. This program will use local high school, college and NFL coaches and players to teach skills and drills that help coaches develop young players with the best possible skills and experience."