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Youth sports offer children ample opportunities to explore and develop lifelong skills. From social and character skills to physical health and development, youth sports allow your child to grow in ways that not many other environments can provide.

The Lincoln Youth Football League (formerly Lincoln Midget Football) is a local organization that provides aspiring young athletes with all of these opportunities. The league -- which has been established in the Lincoln area for over 70 years -- is entirely local and is sectioned by neighborhood, making it easier and safer for athletes to attend practice. Athletes are surrounded by players they know, and there are no traveling games as each team is in Lincoln.

Wondering about the safety aspect of the game? The league has invested a great deal of time and energy to ensure that all of the necessary policies and procedures are in place to help facilitate the safest playing environment possible. To start, the league separates players based not only by age, but also by size and ability, allowing them to line up against other players of similar stature and ability, eliminating many unbalanced, injury-causing match-ups. Players are also taught heads-up tackling, a tackling style endorsed by USA Football and shown to reduce concussions and injuries among players, improving safety for both the tackler and ball carrier.

Local certified athletic trainers, accompanied by American Red Cross volunteers, partner with the league to provide on-field medical guidance to players and coaches. This partnership grants players ages 12 and older the opportunity to take a free ImPACT test at the beginning and end of the season. This test establishes an athlete’s baseline cognitive scores so doctors can provide optimal concussion treatment and follow-up if needed.

Lincoln Youth Football knows there’s more to the game than just winning, which is why the league requires a minimum number of plays played for each player, ensuring that each and every child has the opportunity to grow as an athlete regardless of skill level.

Those unable to play due to financial hardship may be eligible for one of the league's scholarships. Registration ends July 21. To register, see lincolnyouthfootballleague.com

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