BY JONAH WOULLARD
February 2, 2012)- In an exclusive interview, today with the president of the South Florida Youth Football League, Mike Spivey; Generation Nexxt learned the landscape of youth football in South Florida has forever changed.
Mike Spivey advised Generation Nexxt, “The City of Miami Gardens sent an official letter as of January 31, 2012, withdrawing the membership of their five youth programs (the Miami Gardens Bulldogs, Cowboys, Ravens, Vikings, and Rams) from the South Florida Youth Football League.”
“The City of Miami Gardens advised me that in approximately two weeks our league can render a letter of interest to enter a bid for the five Miami Gardens’ football and cheer programs for the 2012 season.” Spivey also mentioned, “[That] due to the SFYFL by-laws, all returning programs must declare their membership by January 31, 2012. If the Miami Gardens programs elected to re-enter the SFYFL, they would have to apply as an entirely new organization.” This removes all of the teams previous wins and lose, places them on probation, and returns them to the status of a new team.
Mike Spivey also said, “It is unfortunate that the league is going through this right now, but we are making several adjustments. We are changing how we operate. [We’re changing] from a board of directors standpoint, we’ve [also] changed our age and weights and we are adding other incentives for organizations to be a part of the SFYFL.”
“Earlier this year, four organizations turned in their letters advising our board they would not be returning for the 2012 football season,” said Mike Spivey. The four programs non-returning programs are the Ft. Lauderdale Hurricanes, N.W. Broward Raiders, Ft. Lauderdale Falcons, and North Miami Seminoles.
Five of these organizations committed to the newly founded Florida Youth Football League, which has been financially backed by international rap star, Flo Rida. In addition, two new organizations (the Broward Seahawks and the Lauderdale Lakes Eagles) and two existing organizations (the Pompano Tigers and the Pompano Chiefs) are looking forward to kicking off the 2012 season under the FYFL umbrella.
Recently, the Florida Youth Football League officially joined the National Youth Football League as a chapter in its’ national alliance of youth football organizations. As it stands, the merger between the local NYFL chapter and FYFL will allow competitive football to be played among 23 different organizations. A detail listing of the teams can be found on the NYFL website (www.nyflsite.com).
In an exclusive interview, Flo Rida told Generation Nexxt, “This has always been a priority for me. I have always wanted to give back to my community and help our next generation in tangible ways. This league will be bigger than just the game of football. Our league will serve as a safe haven for our youth and a place where these kids can have real team pride; knowing we’re backing them up every step of the way.”
This particular off season has truly refaced how youth football will be played in the South Florida region due to the amount of teams potentially leaving the South Florida Youth Football League. The SFYFL has been a staple in the Florida youth football community for the last three decades; at one time boasting to be the third largest youth football league in the entire nation, with over 34 individual youth programs under its umbrella.
In an exclusive Generation Nexxt interview, former South Florida Youth Football president, Steve Berger said, “In February 2008, we had 34 programs committed to the SFYFL, and to see that proud tradition and long going legacy dissolve at such a fast rate, it really disturbs me.” Steve also added, “I can remember when the Hollywood Optimist Football League, Dade County Athletic Association, and Gulf Coast Football League merged to create the South Florida Youth Football League in the early 80’s, the league was really something special. I just feel whenever the board of directors’ voice outweighs the general body’s voice, you lose an open connection to all individual organizations, and clearly that’s what happened here,” said Steve Berger.
That strong number of 34 teams has slowly been on a decline as programs such as Delray Rocks, Lauderhill Broncos, Dania Beach Bears, Washington Park Bucs, Ives Estates, Deerfield Raiders, Broward Titans, Miami Lakes Jaguars, Project Hope, Hallandale Vikings, Tacolcy Red Raiders, Broward Bengals, North Miami Beach Seminoles, Carol City Chiefs, Lake Worth Warriors, Pompano Eagles, Hialeah Cougars, Swbjaa, etc. had either decided to enter a different league, or close down their particular program.
Generation Nexxt spoke with FYFL representative, Martin Maultsby, about once being a big part of the SFYFL and now moving on. Martin said, “I grew up in the SFYFL, and so I’ve coached and served on the board for years. As of late, a few others and myself, felt we weren’t comfortable in the direction the league was going. We offered remedies, but they weren’t accepted, so we elected to move in the best direction we thought would best serve the kids in our communities.” Martin also added, “We know that football can be played anywhere, but Flo Rida and our group envisioned the FYFL to be something much bigger than just football. It’s about bringing communities together, mentorship programs, a strong educational component, and much more. When a kid comes through our league, he or she should be better a person, on and off the football field.”
Mike Francis, the President of the National Youth Football League said, “We are happy to welcome Flo Rida, and his group to National. We feel it’s a great fit that will benefit everyone involved. No one ever wishes ill-will on any organization, but the recent developments that are happening within the SFYFL will happen if you are not fully serving the youth. We tend to put the emphasis on the X’s and O’s before the ABC’s, and that will be something we focus on at both the NYFL and FYFL.”
Luther Campell, CEO and founder of the National Chapter of the NYFL said, “With SFYFL losing a lot of their teams has been an eye opening experience to a lot of people. The football community now understands that the governing bodies of these youth football leagues will be held accountable for their decisions.” Luther also said, “There is no short cut to any of this, we must all pace ourselves to create a bright future for these kids.” That includes servicing kids from the inner cities to the suburbs. But truly putting their best interest first and the rest will take care of itself.”
In the upcoming 2012 youth football season, there are a lot of uncertainties for the South Florida Youth Football League. Losing six organizations at the closing of the 2011 season and potentially losing another five organizations from the City of Miami Gardens, and programs such as the Northside Panthers, Miramar Wolverines, and the Miramar Panthers exploring other options, runs the risk of the SFYFL to potentially operating for the first time since 1981 under 10 teams.
One thing is for sure, with all the recent changes to old leagues and the recent additions to the new leagues, the landscape of youth football in South Florida has forever changed.