The Northern Virginia youth football season usually starts the first Monday of August and runs until the last Saturday in October. If your team qualifies, there is a two-week playoff that ends on that second Saturday of November.
Any child between the ages of 7 and 15 (on October 1st) who reside or attend school in Arlington County is eligible to play for the Admirals
FCYFL rules guarantee that every player will start and play the entire game on offense or defense, only substituted for an injury. When 11-players on one side of the ball play at a time, that means that our teams within a division are capped at 22 players. Generally, we prefer to field two teams of 15 or 16 instead being near the cap. That allows more players the opportunity to play both offense and defense.
Within the Division, the League subdivides the group into three conferences – American, Central, and National. Generally speaking, American is the most competitive and National the least with Central falling somewhere in between.
Pre-season is a busy time for our football players and of critical importance towards the individual success of the player and the overall success of the team. Unlike basketball, soccer or baseball, football is not a free-flowing game where players react to one player with the ball. It is a complex team game, where all 11 players may do something completely different depending upon the play call. If just one player fails to do their job, the whole team fails. Preseason is the time where players not only learn the fundamentals but the large amount of “academics” required to play offense and defense. Every player knowing their ASK-A (Alignment, Stance, Key - Assignment) is a critical safety component as well.
Our experience is that the more practices missed during the preseason, the less likely that team will be successful against other clubs. Practices are 5-nights a week in the month of August and our coaches will tell you that it doesn’t feel like enough time to install everything they need to increase the likelihood of a successful season.
Also every player is required to attend one "weigh-in" at Falls Church High School held on the first three Saturdays of August. The official weight allows the league to be officially enrolled each player in the appropriate weight class. Players can only weigh-in if they have an official Virginia DMV issued “Child ID” and there are no exceptions. Anyone missing the first weigh-in is required to pay a $20 fee before weighing-in at weigh-in #2 or #3.
Once school begins, we gear down to the regular season schedule. Teams are limited to four football “events” per week (normally 3 practices and 1 game). This includes required team-meetings or film sessions. Because we are not affiliated with Arlington County Parks and Rec, our practice schedule is always in flux and can be changed within 24 hours of a scheduled event.
We normally play our first official game 2 weeks after Labor Day. The weekend after Labor Day we participate in the annual “9-11 Bowl” with Alexandria at Martin Luther King Middle School in Alexandria. Every Saturday (and sometimes Sundays for the older teams) for the next 7 weeks you can expect to play an official league game.
Games are played on official football fields and refereed by the same officials who referee local High School games. Sometimes because of referee or field scheduling problems, a team will be scheduled to play a weekday game under the lights. 90% of teams will play on the Saturday of Columbus Day Weekend and we ask for families to plan ahead.
The top teams in each division will play in a two-week playoff bracket. In leagues where more than 4 teams make the playoffs, a mid-week “play-in” game will be scheduled..
WHAT AYFC PROVIDES
The most important piece of equipment you wear during football is the helmet. AYFC tests and reconditions our helmets every year to ensure the remain compliant to all youth and football safety standards before we issue it out to one of our players. Because of this, only AYFC issued helmets are allowed for our players.
We keep helmets for 5 years (the expiration of a football helmet is 10 years) before replacing them with the newest Schutt and Riddell helmets. Using two different brands allows us the best possible fit for your head since the heads of our youth players come in all shapes and sizes!
We ensures your helmet fits properly by measuring and validating each one we provide by utilizing USA Football's Equipment Fit training that every coach undergoes.
Not as important as the helmet but still critical to your safety are your shoulder pads. Once again, only AYFC issued shoulder pads are allowed to worn by players in our program. Our trained coaches will measure you for the best fit.
Other Issued Equipment
AYFC also provides you with practice football pants (with all the correct pads built into them) as well as a game shirt and game pants.
While they are not required/mandated by our rules, cleats are necessary in football. If you purchase screw-in cleats, the screw-in cleats can not have any metal in them. Most cleats today are all molded rubber. Football cleats are not a must, but they do provide more support than a soccer cleat.
All players must wear a mouth guard while playing. It must be in their mouths before the snap or the team is penalized (FCYFL takes this very seriously).
There are a lot of football accessories available. Some will enhance your experience from a protection standpoint, but others just look cool and are not required.
Here is our take on some of the accessories available:
Arm pads/hand pads/elbow pads:
We do not recommend nor discourage the use of these. It really depends on what your child thinks they need after they have been playing for a few practices. We don't suggest purchasing any of these until after your child has played a few practices. Certain positions benefit more from certain additional padding (arm/hand pads for linemen, elbow/rib pads for backs). Too many times, parents buy these pads and the kids don't end up using them.
Protective Cup/Athletic Supporter:
This is not required by FCYFL and is up to the player and your parents if you feel that you need that protection. Unlike baseball, hockey or lacrosse - there are no smaller, fast moving projectiles that can injure you during a game or practice so some of our players choose against one.
Another popular item that the kids love because they look cool, but they may or may not improve your child's performance, safety or comfort. Many coaches don't want kids that handle the ball to wear gloves. Linemen really don't need them. Think carefully before you buy gloves. They might end up only wearing them in the yard to play catch with their friends. For cold morning games, some type of gloves might be helpful. Check with your coach.
Face Mask Shields:
Another item that has been made popular by the NFL. FCYFL rules state that shields can be used but must be clear. They can not be tinted in any way.
Hopefully, you find this helpful before you spend money on items that you don't need. As always, we are happy to discuss any of these or other items with you.
Checklist for all parents:
1. If my child qualifies for Fee Reduction from the County Parks & Rec department, make sure I have a current Fee Reduction Letter.
2. Register for football! If I register before July 1st I will receive a $50 discount.
3. If my child does not reside in Arlington County but does attend school in Arlington, reach out to the commissioner to ensure he is completing a residence waiver with FCYFL.
4. Ensure we are enrolled in the AYFC Mini-Camp in July.
5. Buy some cleats and any other additional items that my player needs/wants. If I want to utilize the Club's 20% discount coupon I know I can wait until the first Saturday in August (also Virginia Tax Free Weekend).
6. If this is my first year playing (or my child's ID has expired) - go to the DMV to get a Child ID Card for the weigh-in on the second Saturday in August (it takes 5-7 business days to arrive after you go into the DMV).
7. Go on the team store and ensure my player and I have all the swag I need for the season.
8. Buy tickets to the AYFC Kick-off Party on September 8th (location TBD).
9. Mark my schedule for the second Saturday in August to ensure my player is at the FCYFL Weigh-in (mandatory for all players)
10. Get ready for some football!