By Chris Fish
MERRITT ISLAND - Brevard County Central Area Parks and Recreation will host the NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick competition on Sunday, Sept. 23 at Kelly Park West, 2455 N. Banana River Drive, Merritt Island.
"We've had the competition for 20 years," said Donald Ingram, youth sports and fitness coordinator for Brevard County Parks and Recreation. "It gives a lot of the kids - boys and girls - who don't usually get the chance, to come out and compete. We are also having it on a Sunday, so we don't compete with practices and games. We would like to see some football players come out."
Registration starts at 9:30 a.m., and the competition begins at 10 a.m. The NFL Punt, Pass and Kick is a free competition open to boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 15. A birth certificate is required to compete, and sneakers must be worn; no cleats allowed.
Despite this being a football competition, Mr. Ingram said they have had successful participants in the past who play soccer and softball.
Mr. Ingram said the Brevard County Central Area Parks and Recreation will take the best four to five scores based on a culmination of how far the competitor can punt, kick and pass the football.
Each participate is allowed one punt, one pass and one kick.
The winners will then compete in a regional championship, as part of the half-time show at Tampa Stadium. Mr. Ingram said there is a limit to one parent per child allowed to attend the trip to Tampa.
The winner of the regional (competition) in Tampa will travel to the national championship at the AFC/NFL playoff held the weekend of Jan. 14, Mr. Ingram said.
"It's a great experience for the kids. They get jerseys, meet players and get to be a part of the half-time show," he said.
Mr. Ingram said he looks forward, this season, to seeing how some of the participants have progressed through the years.
"We've had an advantage of people coming through each age group," he said. "Some were participating in the 7-8 age group, and now they are in the 14-15 age group. It's nice to see them as they grow."
The Palm Bay Parks and Recreation will also host an NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick competition on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 9 a.m. at Liberty Park, 895 Carlyle Ave., S.E. in Palm Bay.
"I hope to see 50 or more boys and girls come out and have fun and try to advance to the sectional and maybe further," said Al Majoy, recreation leader for the Palm Bay Parks and Recreation Department. "Three years ago, we had a national champion come out of our event."
Ribbons will be given to the first-, second- and third-place finishers. All participants will receive gift certificates from local restaurants for participation.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. the day of the event at Liberty Park.
For more information about the NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick competition or to register for either of the events, visit www.nflppk.com.