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Cumberland Panthers

2021 Flag Football FAQ

 

We’re excited to be able to offer two brand new programs in 2021, Boys and Girls Flag Football. We know there are a lot of questions, as is normal with something new, and this FAQ strives to answer as many as possible. Please understand that not everything is finalized at the time this document was authored in early-March and all aspects of the programs are subject to change.

Participation & Eligibility

 

Which age groups are offered?

 

For 2021, we are offering four levels of competition and one level of development.

  • U10 Development (2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 birth years)

  • U12 Competition (2010 & 2011 birth years)

  • U14 Competition (2008 & 2009 birth years)

  • U16 Competition (2006 & 2007 birth years)

  • U19 Competition (2003, 2004 & 2005 birth years)

 

What’s the difference between Competition and Development

 

  • Competition teams will practice for the first part of the season then progress to playing games against opponents.

  • The Development group are the youngest, where league games aren’t yet available. We will develop skills, run drills and have fun on the football field, while we work toward intrasquad scrimmages.

Why two different programs and not one co-ed one?

 

There has been a Girls Touch Football city league for many years and it is well established. There is a strong desire for the Girls to retain their existing league structure. The boys program is new in 2021, and will be the first time a city-wide Flag program for boys has been implemented. While the program is officially labeled “Boys Flag Football”, girls will be accepted on any boys team.

Are there boundary restrictions on registering with the Cumberland Panthers?

 

  • For the Girls Flag program, there are no boundary restrictions. Girls may choose any club to register with.

  • The Boys Flag program adheres to traditional NCAFA boundaries. Players must register for the club they reside in. Visit the NCAFA site for more information on how to determine if you are eligible to register for the Cumberland Panthers

How many players per team?

 

We are expecting 10 players per team. The game is 5-a-side so this allows for absences and illness. The Panthers fully expect to field more than one team at each age group.

Are there try-outs?

 

Not try-outs per se, but sort-outs. No player will be cut unless he or she is entirely incapable of competition and presents a danger to themselves or others, or if the player clearly demonstrates no desire to participate in a team environment.

We will have to evaluate players to place players on teams. We will attempt to balance Panthers teams as best we can.

My child really wants to be with their friend. Is this possible?

 

Of course. Friend requests should be sent to Mark at ouellet.mark@gmail.com as early as possible. Every effort will be made. Ideally, we’d like to see the friend requests be made by both families involved.

Explain this whole “bubble” concept to me.

 

COVID has placed some restrictions on us. While we’d love to run out on the field and play our game with no worries in the world, we’re not quite there yet. In concert with Ottawa Public Health and the governing bodies of football, we’re currently limited to 50 person bubbles or cohorts. These 50 people are only permitted to be in contact with each other while on the field, be it practice or games. This applies to players and volunteers.

We have a plan we’re developing that will possibly permit the creation of multiple bubbles, inclusive of multiple clubs, allowing for real gameplay. A bubble of four teams would be created at an age group. The four teams could range from all being in one club to each team coming from four different clubs.

Rules

 

Which ruleset will be used?

 

We will be using The Canadian Amateur Rule Book for Non-Contact Football. There may be some exceptions or modifications, but this is the backbone of the ruleset.

How does this ruleset differ from the previous Girls Touch ruleset?

 

Generally, not much. The game is very similar. Any players wary of the transition should not be concerned.

Why is Girls Touch no longer available?

 

NCAFA has decided that there are simply more local, provincial, national and international opportunities for flag football compared to touch football.  

What are some rules of note I should be aware of?

 

  • All levels will be 5-a-side

  • Quarterback cannot run with the ball

  • Smaller field dimensions

  • 7 yard rush

  • Offense cannot rush if the LOS is at the opponent’s 5 yard line or closer

  • No kicking

Fees

 

How much are the registration fees?

 

The season fee is $250

What does the registration fee include?

 

This includes all practices, games, jersey, flag kit and mouthguard. It does not include cleats or football gloves (if desired). It also does not include game shorts, which must be black and have no pockets.

If my child chooses not to continue after registering, is a refund an option?

 

A full refund is provided if a player leaves the program before the first game. If the jersey has already been ordered, that portion may not be refundable.

If COVID cancels the season, will we get a refund?

 

In the event of a season cancellation prior to it’s start date, a refund or credit will be considered.

What is an OFA number and why does my player need one?

 

The OFA is the provincial football governing body. Annual registration with the OFA is required for all players and volunteers. Generally covering insurance, it also supports efforts to grow football at both the grassroots and highest levels. 

OFA Registration can be completed at this link
 

Schedules

 

When do practice start, which days will they be and where?

 

Should public health orders permit, we expect to start practices in early-to-mid April. As a club and as a league, we are prepared to shift that later if it appears conditions will be favourable to do so.

While we have multiple fields on which to schedule practices, we expect a large number of registrations. To accommodate the anticipated number of players and teams, we will be spreading practices out over the week. For April and May, expect two 60-90 minute practices per week. Practices will be held on weeknights and weekends.

Once games start, we will reduce to one practice per week. Unfortunately, until we see registration numbers, it is impossible for us to schedule practices. Options may be available to be assigned to a team practicing on a night that works for your family.

When does the season start?

 

Games are currently scheduled to start on May 28th. 

How many games will there be? Will there be a championship?

 

We are anticipating a five-week schedule, with two games per week for a total of 10. Games are held on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays and will last about one hour and 15 minutes.

At the end of the season, a weekend championship tournament is planned, though this tournament relies on public health orders easing.

I’ve heard about a second fall season. What’s this about?

 

Still a bit early on this one. Should the planned tackle season not proceed, NCAFA is prepared to launch a second Flag season in the fall, this one perhaps with a larger scope. A second Girls Flag season may launch regardless.

Lots of road ahead of us before any decisions are made on this.

Volunteers

 

I’m interested in volunteering with my child’s program. What sort of roles are available?

 

We are always looking for coaches, managers, trainers and equipment managers. Flag football is casual enough that it’s a great place to start if you are new to the sport. The Panthers are leaders in developing volunteers for our football programs and are the envy of the City for the number and dedication of our hard workers.

If you’re interested, contact Mark at ouellet.mark@gmail.com to get started.

What are the prerequisites to volunteer?

 

All volunteers must submit an OPS Vulnerable Sector Check, and must sign and adhere to the Cumberland Panthers and NCAFA’s Code of Conducts.

All coaches must complete the following courses:

  • Making Headway

  • Making Ethical Decisions

  • Rowan’s Law

  • U14 Community Coach  (first year coaches exempt)

Guidance on obtaining these certifications will be provided.

Club Policies

 

I’d like to know more about the Club and the people running this program.

 

The Cumberland Panthers are Eastern Canada’s largest minor football club. It is run entirely by volunteers, many of whom have been with the Club for decades. We apply an open policy on all of our club’s workings and welcome enquiries.

I’m worried about team sports while COVID is still active in the community. How are the Cumberland Panthers mitigating risk?

 

The Panthers are governed in COVID compliance by Ottawa Public Health and the Ontario Football Alliance. Exhaustive program reviews are submitted to these authorities before the City of Ottawa will even grant us a field rental. We were the only minor football program in Ottawa to receive permission to operate on a large scale in 2020, which we did to great success.

For more information on how the Panthers will continue to mitigate the risk of COVID in 2021 can be provided on request by contacting Sarah Schmidt, VP of Club Operations.