NASSAU, Bahamas – The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl–Bahamas Youth Football program, an initiative to bring American football to Bahamian youth, will debut in November. The program will impact over 200 10-year-old children on six islands and culminate in a two-day tournament played during bowl week in Nassau in December 2015.
Building on the success of a large Youth Football Leadership Clinic held in Nassau during the 2014 bowl week, the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl–Bahamas Youth Football program, the first youth tackle football program in the Bahamas, features 18 teams of 12 players each, along with two coaches and one game official for each team.
The players will learn the basics of football and skill development from USA Football’s “Heads Up Football” curriculum. Heads Up Football advances player safety in the name of football, teaching proper techniques in blocking and tackling and educating coaches on equipment fitting, concussion recognition and response, heat preparedness and hydration and sudden cardiac arrest. All coaches and game officials involved in the program went through a four-part Heads Up Football training for USA Football certification in October.
The PBB-BYF has other major components, including academic monitoring, life skills built into practices and speakers for game days on personal development, social development and education/career development. Every participant will wear brand-new equipment purchased for the program.
Five teams each will be located in New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama, while two teams each will be located on the Abacos, the Berry Islands, Bimini and Exuma. The teams will play at the College of the Bahamas in Nassau, Grand Bahama Sports Complex, Grand Cay All Age School in the Abacos, Christopher Roberts Memorial Park in the Berry Islands, Bayfront Park in Bimini and L.N. Coakley High School in Exuma. Stanford Duhaney and Ahmad Williams, who are located in Grand Bahama, will be the commissioners of the league.
Tryouts, which are done in a nine-station process, are almost complete. Each team will have two scrimmages in November before league play begins Saturday, Nov. 21, in New Providence and Grand Bahama, and Saturday, Nov. 28, in the Abacos, the Berry Islands, Bimini and Exuma.
The youth program will expand to 11-year-olds in 2016 and 12-year-olds in 2017, which will lead players into established junior tackle programs in New Providence and Grand Bahama. The Abacos, the Berry Islands, Bimini and Exuma have never had a youth tackle football program at any age level.
All games are 6-on-6, with all 12 players on each team playing both offense and defense in each contest. During bowl week, the plan is to have all 18 teams travel to Nassau to participate in the 2015 Youth Football Leadership Clinic, play in a three-tier tournament during Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec. 22-23) of bowl week and attend the 2015 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 24 in Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
The youth program was proposed by former Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky during his time as president of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. Banowsky worked with bowl title sponsor Popeyes, current bowl owner ESPN Events along with conference partners Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference to make the program a reality. The PBB-BYF is administered by program coordinator LaLisa Anthony, who is also the president of the Bahamas American Football Federation (BAFF). Anthony worked closely with the bowl, Conference USA and USA Football to administer last year’s youth clinic.
“The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl-Bahamas Youth Football program is a big step forward for American football in the Bahamas,” said Anthony. “The Bahamas have never had a youth-level tackle football program, and this will lead to the growth and development of the game on six islands. The program will have a positive impact on the kids participating as they will learn not only football skills, but life and personal development skills. I want to thank Popeyes, ESPN Events, Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference for making this program a reality for Bahamian youth.”
“The sport of football is fun to watch but even more fun to play,” said Banowsky. “It also teaches wonderful lessons like teamwork, discipline and success in life is realized from hard work. All of us are thrilled with this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the young people in the Bahamas and introduce many of them to the great sport of football.”
“Through the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl experience, partnering with Conference USA and the MAC, we are able to bring America’s pastime of football to the Islands,” said Hector Munoz, Popeyes Chief Marketing Officer – U.S. “We are also proud to be supporting the Bahamas Youth Football program. We believe the education provided to the Bahamian youth athletes will further strengthen the game of football worldwide.”
“The objective for ESPN Events surrounding our college football bowl games is not only to ensure that student-athletes and fans have a first-rate experience, we are also committed to engaging and contributing a wide-reaching experience within local communities as well,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president, ESPN Events. “And the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl-Bahamas Youth Football program is a wonderful way to bring the game more directly to children across so many Bahamas communities.”
“This is a wonderful new opportunity for these young athletes in the Bahamas,” said Conference USA Senior Associate Commissioner Alfred White. “It is as important to teach sound fundamentals of the game at an early age as it is the rewards to be gained from teamwork, sportsmanship and discipline. We are honored to support an initiative that educates children in all of these developmental areas.”
“We are proud to support this new initiative to bring the game of youth football to the six islands and the character building lessons that come from our great sport,” said Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. “Learning football fundamentals, proper technique and safety is essential to youth football players introduction to the game, yet these young athletes will learn the valuable skills and the invaluable character-building and sportsmanship lessons needed to be successful both on and off the field.”