‘The start of the start’ brings hundreds to soccer fields

“It’s the start of the start,” said one parent who shepherded coolers containing liquids to combat the rapidly-heating morning.

“This is the start, and it continues until the end of football season,” the shepherd said as players came running up to him following their contest on one of three fields that hosted flag football games.

Flag football teams from Anahola to Hanapepe opened up the season yesterday with games being played on three soccer fields at Vidinha Stadium.

Mark Ozaki, the Kaua‘i Police Department officer who sits on the Kaua‘i Police Activities League, was kept busy as he jockeyed his golf cart from one scoreboard to another to keep the time running for the games that were being unfolded before an audience of appreciative parents.

Ozaki had a full plate before him as he monitored the coming and going of officials, as well as fielding the usual opening day questions and keeping the game clocks rolling.

Earlier in the week, practice dotted fields around the island as community teams readied for opening day.

Gracie Grace, president of the Lihu‘e Pop Warner Association, was finalizing that league’s registration for tackle football, but estimated that more than 600 keiki were signed up for the K-PAL flag football program.

They play in the Cubs, Wildcats, Bobcats and Enforcer divisions depending on age.

Mikey Cardinez, one of the coaches for the Kapa‘a program, noted that the Bobcats’ program changed to a no-rush, pass-only game where each team fields seven players.

That format joins the older division youngsters in the Enforcer division who play the same format resulting in less chance of player injury, and allows for more playing time for the team roster.

Shawn McGurn, one of the officials from the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation, exchanged his black-and-white stripes to the white K-PAL officials’ shirt.

“As long as it’s football, they can’t keep me off the field,” he said as he trotted off to officiate another game.

Next Saturday’s games take place at 8 a.m. at the Vidinha Stadium soccer fields.

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