The Atlanta Falcons are pleased to recognize several youth football organizations around the state of Georgia that have committed to the future of youth football by adopting a new USA Football program dedicated to making the game better and safer. The Heads Up Football program ensures a positive youth football experience and advances player safety by providing league wide coaching education and teaching resources that benefit players, parents and coaches.
USA Football is the official youth development partner of the NFL, and the youth leagues in Georgia are among more than 900 youth football organizations nationwide that will incorporate Heads Up Football into its 2013 season.
Former Falcons Brian Finneran and Coy Wire will serve as NFL Ambassadors for the Heads Up Program and will work with select area leagues to reiterate the program's focus. Additionally, the Falcons have provided supplemental funding to add former Falcons players Buddy Curry and Ray Buchannan as NFL Ambassadors. Buddy Curry will also serve as a Heads Up Football Master Trainer and will offer sessions for designated league player safety coaches to be trained in Heads Up Football. Player Safety Coaches will evaluate and monitor Heads Up Football player safety protocols within the organization as well as work with league commissioners, coaches, parents and players throughout the season to provide on-site clinics and mentoring to ensure that coaching and player safety best practices are used.
Thanks to a grant from the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, Kids & Pros, a nonprofit organization led by Curry, will bring the Heads Up Football Program to three additional leagues in Atlanta. Further, this summer Kids & Pros will deliver a free week-long camp for boys (football) and girls (basketball) at Grady High School and will deliver 20 character presentations in Atlanta and DeKalb schools. Kids & Pros will also continue its equipment donation program and its community service projects. In 2012, Kids & Pros donated more than $50,000 in equipment to Atlanta sports programs, organized volunteer days to renovate three Centers of Hope, and secured 450 Christmas gifts for Hall County Boys & Girls Clubs kids and families. Kids & Pros has expanded its programming to deliver flag football clinics and a basketball camp for girls.
"The Atlanta Falcons are proud to endorse Heads Up Football and are dedicated to promoting a better, safer game in our community," Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay said. "Football offers so many rewards for our children when the game is taught correctly and coaches are prepared to teach. This program is changing for the better how youth football is played."
"The health and safety of every youth player is USA Football's No. 1 priority," USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. "These Atlanta-area leagues show exceptional dedication to their players, parents and coaches, and we are proud to have them be part of Heads Up Football. Each of them is committed to the highest standards of player safety and coaching education in all of youth sports."
Adopted in 2013 by youth leagues across the nation, Heads Up Football requires five primary elements:
Heads Up Tackling: USA Football's Heads Up Tackling technique, endorsed by medical and football experts, teaches players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact.
Concussion recognition and response: Coaches learn and are assessed on CDC concussion recognition and response through USA Football's Level 1 Coaching Certification Course. Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season at a league-wide clinic. These protocols are reinforced throughout the season.
Coaching education: All coaches within a youth football program are trained to teach the game's fundamentals by completing USA Football's nationally accredited Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.
Equipment fitting: Coaches, parents and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.
Player Safety Coach: Appointed by each participating Heads Up Football youth organization. This individual ensures compliance with Heads Up Football's player safety protocols, including coaching certification and conducting safety clinics for coaches, parents and players.
Area leagues showing a commitment to players and coaches through Heads Up Football membership:
Cascade Wolverines Youth Football (Atlanta); Central Dekalb Jaguars Youth Football (Atlanta); Fairburn Athletic Association, Inc. (Fairburn, GA); Forest Park Vikings (Atlanta); Lassiter Junior Trojan Football (Marietta, GA); Locust Grove Football & Cheerleading Association (Locust Grove, GA); North Georgia Youth Football Association (Jefferson, GA); P.A.S.S. Mustangs Youth Football (Lithonia, GA); Savannah Universal Sports Group (Savannah, GA); Scottdale Youth Athletic Association (Scottdale, GA); The Generals Youth Football Association (Stockbridge, GA); Walton Youth Football and Cheer Program (Marietta, GA); West Central Georgia Feeder League (Columbus, GA).
Learn more about Heads Up Football at www.usafootball.com.