Local News, Sports

Youth football and cheer programs merge 

The area’s two youth football and cheerleading programs are merging, the Homewood-Flossmoor Junior Vikings and Kings announced April 12. The new organization will be called the Homewood Flossmoor Youth Football and Cheerleading Club.

“The biggest reason to do this was to combine resources,” HFYFCC President Martez Harding said. “Now we can all work together and push to make the vision possible, that’s to create youth that want to give back to the community.” 

Harding was with the Junior Vikings before founding the Kings. He’ll head up the new group.  

Harding said a merger was attempted before. The hangup was what Harding called “differences of opinion” among the leadership of both groups that have been resolved. It took two or three years to work things out.

“We finally made it happen,” Harding said. “I have a vision for what this can be, the culture that we can set and the feeder that we can give to the high school.”

Becoming that stable feeder system for the Homewood-Flossmoor football and cheer programs is important to HFYFCC, Harding said. One of the goals is to retain more of the kids who leave the area and attend private schools. 

The River Valley Youth Football league, in which the football team will compete, includes several local feeder programs for high schools that compete with H-F. 

“I picked Homewood Flossmoor for my kids to be raised. I think it’s a phenomenal community. We just have to continue to make it that way,” Harding said. 

A mentoring program called IMPOWER (pronounced “I’m power”) from the Kings organization will continue with HFYFCC. The aim is to help kids express themselves and build self esteem. The five pillars of IMPOWER are discipline, integrity, scholarship, community and service.

“We just wanted to bring all of that together and form one big pool of resources for the kids instead of being split,” Harding said. “That was the main goal of bringing the two organizations together, to have one big ball of success.” 

Board members from both sides who wanted to remain in the position will. The responsibilities are divided evenly.

“We want our current families and every family considering playing with the Homewood Flossmoor Youth Football and Cheer Club to know that we do not intend to slow down,” Vice President Carla Gamble said in a release. “We will continue to tirelessly help our student-athletes achieve their goals to learn the sports of football and cheer and excel at the next level and beyond.”

No kids will be left behind with the merger. Youth football rules allow the organization to field two separate teams in an age group if a quota of players is met, Harding said. The same applies to the cheerleading program.

“We definitely expect to put a better football product out there. We expect to have more volunteers to help put that product out there,” Harding said. “We’re trying to build respectable football players and cheerleaders. It’s not really all about football. It’s about us raising positive and productive kids.” 

Registration for HFYFCC is open right now. For more information, visit hfjrvikings.org or hfkings.org. 

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