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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Football Coach Building Confidence in Youth

In his day, kids used to play outside until the streetlights came on, said Damion Dedmon, 34. Now kids want to sit around inside and play video games.


“That is the common thing parents talk to me about. We don’t understand it,” said Dedmon. “I ended up doing something that is all-year around to keep then playing.”


In his spare time he runs the Play Makers, a flag football league for youths.


“Play Makers is a competitive NFL affiliated youth flag football program. By being a member of the NFL Play 60 program, the idea is to have our youth running and burning calories for at least 60 minutes a day,” Dedmon said. “In my opinion, the NFL-brand flag football game has been a perfect collaboration in order to achieve this goal.”


NFL Flag Football is a non-contact sport that is played five on five. It teaches the fundamentals of the game of football. It also builds confidence for the modest of players and patience for the more talented ones. Sportsmanship and learning the importance of becoming a student athlete is emphasized.


“I believe that kids need to play for at least 60 minutes a day,” he said. “Video games have become the norm for a majority of kids to spend their free time. This mindset is unacceptable for parents of my generation. We seem to like to see our kids playing a competitive sport.”


“Since flag football is non-contact, a lot of parents enjoy seeing their child participating in this sport because they know there is very minimum risk for an injury to occur,” he said. “It builds confidence in all players, even for the smaller players because it is non-contact and they can pull the opponent’s flags without the fear of being injured.”


Dedmon’s Play Makers is made up for about 50 youths, from ages 5 to 13, who come from all over south Phoenix and Laveen.


“We have the league divided into teams in NFL affiliated flag football jerseys. We play each other throughout the season,” he said.


On a recent weekend the league took part in their first Big Red Flag tournament where they played against teams from Tucson and other teams from the greater Phoenix area.


“We didn’t win as many games as the other kids, but they (his kids) came back with a lot of knowledge, which is priceless.”


About 2,000 kids participated in the event which was held at ASU stadium, he said.

“Next time I expect for us to win a lot of games,” he said.

“It’s important for the kids to have memories. Coming from a small town in Oklahoma, I didn’t have the opportunity to have sports to choose from. One of my motivating factors is that I try to do some things I could have done.”


The first day, after registration, the kids are put through the paces of running though skill assessments.


“We see how fast they are, how well they throw the football and what team they are going to be on,” he said.


He said he has no trouble attracting players.


“I do a local television station, I give flyers to the local elementary schools, and I speak to people randomly and at community events. If there is a local event, I make it a point to be there,” he said.


“My major challenge is finding the right facility to accommodate all our needs,” he said. “Being from this side of town, we don’t have the best facilities like North Phoenix or Scottsdale,” he said.


They currently play at Trailside Point Elementary School, but will soon outgrow it.


He has eight volunteer coaches and his wife Holly and her friend Rosa Dieken to help out and keep things running smoothly.


The best thing about being in the league is that he sees a boy who was shy at first become more confident and more assertive.


“I’ve seen a kid catch the ball for the first time and run straight to their parents and say, ‘see what I did,’” he said.


Even seeing a child who continually runs the wrong way down the field, finally figure it out is a treat for him,” he said.


Once they hit high school, the youths understand the basics of the game and all that is left is for them to learn how to tackle, he said.


Three of his children are boys 7, 11 and 13. They play in the league, his oldest helping out. The couple also has a 2-year-old daughter.


His day job is a project manager of fiber equipment for Cox business projects. He has been with Cox for six years.


To learn more about Play Makers call Dedmon at 602-361-4314.







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