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Excitement Builds for Youth Football

It's hard to tell who is more excited about the start of Westport's youth football season -- the kids or the coaches. Kids from third grade to eighth were running drills at PJ Romano Field at Saugatuck Elementary School and adults alike could barely contain their enthusiasm.

"This is the most exciting part of the year for us," said Carmen Roda, director of Westport PAL youth sports. "We have over 250 kids playing tackle football and it's nothing but electrifying. We have kids out here every day and our coaches are teaching them not only football, but life lessons."

One of the challenging parts of Westport youth football is coordinating the 10 tackle teams, five cheerleading squads and another 150 kids who play flag football. Roda said it's a testament to the PAL board of directors and the coaches who work hard in the off-season that everything goes off without a hitch.

"We want to make sure they get the most out a two-hour practice," Roda said. "We want to be a feeder system for Staples High School, so when they get there they know Coach [Marce] Petroccio's system."

As much fun as the kids and coaches have, everyone knows how important the safety of the players is. The league hired a full-time trainer to help keep the kids safe, and every coach has to have CPR and concussion certification.

"Let's face it -- it we don't have safe kids, we don't have a program," Roda said. "We're all about technique and not as much about contact, because we want these kids to be safe. Most of all we want the kids to have fun and learn to love the game."

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