ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The NFL Foundation is giving USA Football a five-year, $45 million grant to expand the already burgeoning Heads Up Football program that teaches safe tackling to youngsters.
Foundation Chair Charlotte Jones Anderson announced the grant Monday at the league's owners meetings after the NFL saw the early success of the program. Heads Up Football had nearly 2,800 youth football organizations teaching it during its first year, more than five times early projections.
Heads Up Football is designed to "take the head out of tackling" and employs master trainers who teach it to coaches throughout the nation. Those coaches in turn instruct youth football players — about 600,000 in 2013.
Funds also will be used to increase NFL flag football league for boys and girls ages 5-17
"There is a need for information and education," Anderson said. "And we can really have a chance to do something very significant here by having a loud voice and a large presence, and developing a great program to make a difference in youth sports safety.
"It is about showing people there is a correct way to play sports, so your children will be safe and will benefit. You can't replace what children learn from teamwork, respecting coaches, taking direction, being able to be part of a team and learning to deal with success and failure. You can't learn that in the classroom."
USA Football, the sport's national governing body, developed Heads Up Football in an effort to unite a fragmented sport on the youth level through a coaching technique based on safety. The NFL helped fund the launch.
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