The Medley Police department kicked off its first inuagural flag football program on Saturday, Nov. 16 at Virginia Gardens Park.
The program, dubbed “Let It Fly,” is the brain child of Medley police officer Angel Perez, who joined the force 11 months ago.
“Angel came up with the idea after our hoop-it-up basketball event last spring,” said Medley police chief Jeanette Said-Jinete. “There are two officers and five teenagers on each team.”
The four teams had custom-made colorful jerseys with their names on the back. Each had colorful names, too, like Rainmakers, Ravens, Titans and Dolphins.
Said-Jinete expects the friendly, flag football match to be played among Medley youth at least once a year. However, she added other cities could join in.
“We would welcome the competition,” she said.
The games were limited to 20 minutes each with halftime after 10 minutes. Near the bleachers, parents were served hot dogs and cotton candy by city officials.
The town hired a DJ to play music as council members danced wearing special football jerseys with their names on them and the numbers “00.”
Some lightheartedly joked whether the referees could be objective. The three included Medley Police Lt. Jack Young, Lt. Julio Chardon and Sgt. Chris Little.
“Too many of us sit around and just watch TV,” said Hennessy Sepulveda, 13, who played wide receiver. “It is good to get out and move around.”
Surprisingly, many of the players were female.
“We practiced with the guys,” said Kasandra Milian, 14, another wide receiver, who put streaks of black paint under her eyes to help deflect the sun. “We are just as confident as they are about winning.”
Though the Titans walked away as the champs after they beat the Ravens 9-7 in “overtime,” the teens bonded with local officials in a way that makes living in a small town so extraordinary.
The big winner, according to Medley mayor Roberto Martell, is the community. Medley credits its “near zero” crime rate to close interaction between officials and area youth.
“This is something very good for all the kids in our city,” said Martell, who attended the event with council members Edgar Ayala and Griselia Digiacomo. “I thank the police department and all the kids for what we have accomplished.”
Martell also hinted that he would like to see Medley look into developing its own football field for future activities. Medley youth traveled by bus to Virginia Gardens, about two miles away, to play the match.
“I would like to start looking at having one in our city,” said Martell. “I think we could get it done.”