Some parents are reluctant to enrol their children in football because of the physical nature of the sport but a new league will begin in the spring that gives kids a chance to be competitive in a non-contact environment.

The Big Time Players 7v7 Football League starts in April and the goal is to promote skill development for players between the ages of 11 and 17.

The league has the support of former Calgary Stampeder Keon Raymond who has three boys of his own so he understands why parents are concerned about their kids getting hit and the possibility of suffering a concussion.

“When kids start at a young age, you know, I’m from the old school, where I grew up in St. Louis, and the coach was like, put your head down and you run into him as hard as you can and there was a lot of kids who get hurt from it. And now they’ve done a really good job with the programs of heads up and making sure that coaches are taught the right way of how to tackle,” said Raymond. “There’s so many things you can learn from the game of football and not to just go and hit and put your head down.”

Raymond is concerned about the future of the sport and wants to do his part to preserve the game.

“I think the game of football teaches so many life skills. The biggest thing is teamwork, you face a lot of adversary in it,” he said. “You learn to rely and trust in each other and I think in society, you need to do that in jobs, in school and things like that and that is probably one of the best things that football has taught me, just how to be a good teammate, you know.”

Raymond says kids should not play football year round because of the physical demands of the sport.

“When it’s football season, you should play football. When it’s baseball season, you should play baseball. I think just having our kids to be a little bit more well-rounded instead of trying to specialize in a sport where, I have a son, he's been offered to play in three different leagues up here and that's like year round football, tackling and he's too young to be trying to specialize in one sport,” Raymond added.

Last summer, Raymond started a tykes flag football league and in the spring will launch the Big Time Players 7v7 Football League, which offers players an alternative to the tackle game.

“What's more fitting to teach kids the game of football in a non-contact manner and so yeah, we came up with the Big Time Players. If you've ever watched in the U.S., seven-on-seven football is huge, and it's a lot of kids who get recruited off seven-on-seven football. It gives them an opportunity where it’s injury free and they have a chance to continue to hone their skills in the game.”

The league will have three divisions; U12, U14 and U17 and will run from April 7th to June 15th.

For more information and registration, click HERE.

(With files from Glenn Campbell)