NEW BRITAIN - There might be full-contact football in New Britain this year after all.
On Monday, the New Britain Board of Education voted to loan the high school’s football equipment to the city’s youth league - the Junior Hurricanes - for players to use.
“This is an opportunity to even the playing field a little bit in allowing our student-athletes of a certain age to play organized football under coaches that we know and coaches they’ve already worked with,” said New Britain Athletic Director Len Corto, who said the school would have no part in scheduling for the proposed age group. “They’re not going to some renegade program and taking their chances with whatever equipment they can scrape up.”
Private or club teams have become an option for towns and cities in Connecticut after the CIAC made the decision to cancel full-contact football in early September based on the state Department of Public Health’s recommendation that the sport was considered too high of a risk amid the on-going coronavirus pandemic. Seven-on-seven passing scrimmages and linemen challenges are set to take the place of 11-on-11 football this fall.
But youth sports and youth football has still been played across Connecticut. The Junior Hurricanes began their season on Sept. 14. Other towns, such as Derby and Meriden, according to GameTimeCT, have also voted to loan out school equipment.
“All we’re for asking for is you guys to allow us to use the equipment so we can have an independent season,” senior Emanuelle Madera told the board on a call. “Everyone is working extremely hard and we have one goal - to play a game. All for asking for is one chance to show what we believe in, which is football.”
Initially, the vote on the New Britain proposal - brought by new head coach Isaiah Bodie and football booster Gale Connelly - did not pass with a 3-3 result with one person abstaining.
“We’re just asking for a chance to compete,” another football player said.
But after going through the team’s safety protocols, a second round of voting was held and it passed with a vote of 3-2 in favor of lending out the equipment with two abstentions.
“Across our state, there are several towns that are opting in for football unrelated to the school district, but there are also funds that maybe come more readily to some families more than others,” Superintendent Nancy Sarra said. “A lot of our football players, in speaking with Mr. Bodie, have opted to go to other towns to play because there isn’t an age bracket here. But our town is willing to open that up to any young man or woman who wants to play in that age group rather than them going to the other towns where we don’t know the other kids they’re co-mingling with.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or email@example.com