A number on a scale will determine the group kids will get to play in for Regina Minor Football (RMF) this fall, and some parents aren’t happy about it.
“It’s our understanding that these restrictions were put in place to protect player safety, however we believe that all kids can participate in tackle football in a safe manner,” said Kevin Mooney. He’s a parent of a player, and coaches football as well.
Two divisions in the Regina Minor Football League have weight limits on their players: the Atom division at 115 lbs, and the Peewee Division at 140 lbs. If a player is at the Atom or Peewee age but is too heavy, they have to play in an older division.
This isn’t a new rule, but Mooney has started a petition against the practice.
“We believe that all children should be able to experience this great league if they choose.”
He cites a Mayo Clinic study that looked at the risk of injury in youth football games. Mooney said it shows that having younger kids play with older just because of their weight is unsafe.
“What the Mayo Clinic is saying is that … as you get older, you have more body control, you have more muscle mass, coordination, agility, better understanding of the game, and you actually know how to use your body and lay a hard hit.”
Mooney said football divisions in Moose Jaw and Saskatoon don’t have weight restrictions. He suggested a compromise like having heavier players being restricted to certain positions such as offensive or defensive line.
Mooney said he’s gotten an overwhelming response from parents, and almost 100 people have signed the petition in two days.
Despite the criticism of the policy, Mooney said he likes the league, and they have great programming. He also praised their safe-contact training, and how they’re teaching kids to properly hit and tackle early on.
According to Len Antonini, executive director of Regina Minor Football, the weight limits have always been there, and their programs are successful.
“We believe that the formula that we have is working,” said Antonini.
He explained that there aren’t many kids that have to bump up to older divisions.
“We’re not saying you can’t play. If you’re an atom age and you’re over the weight limit, it’s not that you can’t play, you have to play up in the peewee division, and a lot of parents don’t like the fact that they have to play with the older kids.”
Antonini said they take care of the kids if they do have to move divisions. He explained there are fair play rules so the coaches don’t have to play the kid if they’re not ready.
When it comes to the Mayo Clinic study Mooney cites, Antonini said, according to the RMF’s records, the Regina had actually had fewer injuries than the team looked at in the study, during the same season.
About 1,700 kids are enrolled in RMF programs for the coming fall.
“We are providing an opportunity for as many kids as possible, I know it’s not everybody, but as many kids as possible to play the game of tackle football,” said Antonini.
But, Antonini did say that if someone could bring forward a better system, the league might look at it.