By Regina Shiroma
It’s that time of season again when football families line the edges of the fields with their pop-up tents and set up their grills to watch the kids play. The Guam National Youth Football Federation begins its season this weekend. With eight teams and over 1,200 players and cheerleaders, this season promises even competition throughout the divisions.
Your 2012 GNYFF teams include:
The Angels, always a threat on the field, are eager to claim a title this season after dropping two championship games in the Manha and Metgot divisions last season.
“Our Manha and our Metgot team, though we have numbers, it’s more or less a rebuilding year, a lot of young kids. But we’ll still be competitive,” said Mike Guiterrez, vice president of the Angels.
As for the Matua division, the champions of the inaugural season of the GNYFF, they too are looking for a championship this time around after losing their semi-final match last year to the Giants.
“Our Matua team is very good this year; we have a very good chance in the Matua division.”
President of the Angels Ivan Shiroma reiterated saying, “We always do well, I know were always going to be in contention for a championship or just basically do well throughout the season because we have good coaches, good players, and good discipline.”
A strong defensive team, the Cowboys are also ready for another shot at the Matua division championship. They suffered a heartbreaking loss in the semifinals, holding the Eagles scoreless throughout the game, but with the rainy, muddy conditions and with only four minutes left, their opponents slipped through their fingers. The Cowboys also the claimed the cheerleading championship last season.
The Eagles defeated the Giants last season 28-12 in the Matua division championship. However, due to an ineligible player, the championship spot for the Matua no longer belongs to the Eagles and has been left vacant. So the Eagles this year are keen on earning a title as its predecessor, the Tamuning Eagles—the prestigious youth team in the 70’s—made a name for itself as being one of the best youth teams on the island.
The 2010 Matua division champions came off a rebuilding season in 2011. They hope to claim a title this season after dropping the quarterfinal game by a mere one point to the Eagles.
The Hensel Phelps Giants look to take yet another title in the Metgot division as these 9 to 11 year-olds are the two-time defending champs.
“It’s a rebuilding season, but we’re confident in our players and our coaching staff that we’re gonna go out there and get that championship again,” said president of the Giants football team, Dave Taitano.
As for the Matua division, who last season made to the finals, seek to redeem themselves as they fell short of the title in the championship match up against the Eagles.
“Just to get up to the championship game was a great accomplishment for our team. We’re extremely confident about our chances. We’re excited to get out there.”
The Jets’ pride and joy lays with their 9-11 year olds. The back-to-back champions of the Manha division defeated the Angels in an exciting game last year by a touchdown and an extra point. The Jets look to do defend their title once more.
Though the Raiders were unable to claim a title last season, they have always put up competition to whomever they play.
“They have the will and the desire to win,” said Raiders president, Paul Blas.
Blas feels it will be a good season for the Raiders because they all have one mindset: that they want to win. And they have the heart to do so.
“I’m looking for a good season this from all of our divisions, considering that the other teams out there are a little bit more experienced and have a little bit better players, some teams with a big bulk of great players. We just have a bunch of players that want to win.”
In just its second year of being apart of the GNYFF, the Saints have yet to win a title, but have always been a presence in the league. The Saints were never underestimated, as they always put up a good fight and a good game for spectators.
“It’s engrained in my blood, to be involved in football, it’s passed down from my dad. It’s a passion.”
So go out and support the kids with your cheers because there’s nothing more endearing than watching the Mandikiki sprint down the field with their little legs and in the Matua division, at no other age level will you find young men and, yes, even some young women compete competitively out on the field.
This weekend will feature the Angels going up against the Falcons at UOG and the Jets versus the Saints at Eagle Field on Saturday; on Sunday, the Giants will face the Raiders at UOG and the Eagles will go head-to-head with the Cowboys at Eagle Field.
Last season’s standings:
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