‘Main thing is they’re having fun’

LIHUE — Willys Labanon, coach of the Lihue Warriors, said the main thing about Kauai Police Activities League is having fun.

“We like to see the kids smiling,” Labanon said. “It’s not about winning or losing. We like to see them laughing and smiling when the final horn sounds. The main thing is they’re having fun.”

Labanon was coaching his team against the Kapaa Steelers (Melchor), Saturday during the K-PAL flag football games that entered its fourth week of play.

“We get a break during the July 4th weekend,” said Kauai Police Department Lt. Mark Ozaki, one of the founders of K-PAL flag football. “After that, we get three more weekends and it’s over. Officer Mitch Collier is in charge of K-PAL now, but you know how it is — you just can’t stay away.”

Collier said the K-PAL flag football program encompasses about 500 kids aged 5 through 14, coming from as far away as Hanalei and Kekaha.

“We don’t have a team on the North Shore, but the kids come to Kilauea,” Collier said. “We have teams as far west as Kekaha.”

Sean Andrade was coaching the Crusaders, a team in the middle school division.

“We have at least three players who play basketball as well as flag football,” said Andrade, a coach for Papalina in the summer league. “The trouble with a weekend when you have a lot of activities is trying to keep track of where you need to be. We had a game Friday night in Kalaheo. We play football here, and this afternoon, we have a basketball game at Kapaa High School.”

Ruby and Rafael Camarillo also had children who played flag football. They were on hand with Raf’s Kitchen lunch wagon serving up breakfast food for hungry parents and players.

“I’m honored they called us to ask if we could do this,” Ruby said. “Our kids all played flag football, and our son is out there officiating one of the games. We know what it’s like to scramble for food. We are happy to do this, and honored they thought about asking us. You want a Ham-a-jang omelet? It has everything in it.”

One of the spectators said he doesn’t work on Saturdays so he can watch flag football.

“I have two grandsons playing,” he said. “I don’t work on Saturdays so I can come watch them. Today, they have games at 9 a.m., and another at 2 p.m. I have to stay here to watch them play.”

The next scheduled games for K-PAL football is on July 9 starting at 8 a.m. at the North Vidinha fields. Motorists are advised to use caution because the access road to Vidinha Stadium at Kapule Highway is closed during the games.

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