Last December, I was sitting on the bleachers watching my son during his football practice and a wave of emotion came over me as I heard colors begin. I saw every player on that field stop running drills and snap to attention as the trumpet wafted through the Okinawa air. I was struck at how this ritual is second nature to our kids and immediately wondered how different things would be when we moved back to the States and didn’t live in this secluded atmosphere so many of us have adjusted to. I also thought about how anxious I was when we received our orders here and thought this would be a great opportunity to share one of our experiences with a family just starting the journey as we had three years ago!

As a mom of two very active boys, I was worried about how our move from the States to Okinawa would affect them. Our older son has always been involved in whatever sport was being played during that season. When we found out that we were moving to Okinawa, his biggest concern was “Mom, do they play football in Japan?” I scoured the internet sites looking for some mention of football and outside of high school or flag football, my search came up empty. I didn’t have the heart to tell him at the time, so I kept changing the subject every time it came up. When we got here and started to settle into the MANY changes that come with a huge move like this; the question continued to nag in my head and out of his mouth. Finally, one day as we were walking through the Foster Exchange we came across a registration booth for Okinawa Youth Football and we were elated to find the answer to our questions!


Now, three years later, I’m thrilled at how far the league has come and how it’s grown. To see those boys and girls take the field on game day will always be awe-inspiring. I watch football players with “war” faces on (and a spark of smile in their eyes). I see cheerleaders with their uniforms pressed and infectious joy spreading to the crowd. There’s no better way to spend the weekend!
Living in Okinawa is an experience we will treasurer always. But being so far away from our “regular” lives, is often times a difficult adjustment, especially for our kids. For so many of us, the game of football gives us a feeling of home. Being able to maintain this sense of normalcy in our kids’ lives is a blessing to all of us. Keeping them fresh on their skills will also make the transition back home much easier. Often times, our kids go back to the states and are expected to pick up where they left off. This is one way to ensure our kids are ready to step back into tackle football with little or no hesitation. This is especially important with the older kids that will be playing high school ball. We need to make our time here beneficial on many different levels, OYF is just one of those ways to try and make a difference for our kids.


OYF offers full tackle football and cheerleading to kids ages 5-14.

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Facebook:  Okinawa Youth Football



  1. So we just PCS’d here from Texas and my son really wants to play football. Is OYF through the Youth Programs or through something else. I’ve asked and was told he wouldn’t be able to play football until HS. Kind of a bummer coming from Texas where kids are playing football while still in diapers. LOL.

  2. I am so thankful that we have a tackle football league on Okinawa! My son played and my daughter cheered last year and had a blast! It was very similar to Pop Warner in the states only for a fraction of the cost! Practices were just as they were with our previous league which included a minimum hour requirement for conditioning and a maximum for practices during the regular season. As far as athletics and education I see these both going hand in hand. Our volunteer coaches not only encouraged our players to work hard in school, there were several times where boys were encouraged to bring their homework to practice if need be. I would highly recommend this league to any incoming football player looking to continue playing or for any young athlete looking to try something new.

  3. We loved OYF. The kids learn a lot and had tons of fun. If you are on here complaining I take it you were one of those parents who didn’t assist or get involved in the league. This is a volunteer program. No one gets paid for doing this. Coaches and staff give a lot of hours from their normal everyday life to do this. For FREE! OYF’s board was great and will continue to be great. If you only knew how much work behind the scenes you would appreciate it more.
    As for practice, there is no way that your child would have a worthwhile practice in one hour. It takes parents 10-15 min. to arrive at practice. It can take 10-15 min. to make sure all the kids have their equipment on properly. So they don’t get hurt. Football is not an easy sport, so teaching the kids the safe way to hit and play is important. So when they do get older they know what they are doing.
    Complain less and volunteer more. The league is always welcoming all types of assistances.

  4. Love OYF! I agree with the lady though that states you should talk to other parents…but not just one parent! All people are different and have different views on the sport and practices. You should also speak to the volunteers and if you have concerns or suggestions to help make the league better…VOLUNTEER yourself! I am sure they are not going to turn anyone away who wants to make the league better!

  5. First of all, we had a great overall experience when my son played two seasons ago. His team had not one, not two, not three, but SIX volunteer coaches who showed up for every practice to work with the team on different skills. Yes, there were a few changes along the way, but we just went with the flow. Second, the reason why OYFL has so many practices compared to other youth sports on the island is for safety. The kids need to know how to play the game of football, but they also know how to play it safely with all that equipment on, with tackling, etc. My son’s team practiced M-F for the first three weeks and then they went to three days per week.

  6. I’m with Gwen. I don’t value athletics over education, and there is no need for kids so young to be practicing any sport for so many hour per week. Reality says that most kids will not go on to make a living playing professional sports, so why would we want to foster that sort of thinking at such a young age?

    • What it fosters in the kids that play Youth Football is that hard work pays off. You don’t have to value athletics over academics, you can encourage both. If your expectations of your kids are low, they will probably meet your expectations easily. However, If your expectations are high, they may surprise you.

      • I don’t believe a single person mentioned anything about having low expectations for their children. What previous posters said was that, while kids should try their best at what they do, they should not be spending more time working on football plays than studying for spelling. If you believe education is important, it’s hard to argue with that logic. If you are like some parents and you’re more worried about living vicariously through your kids, then I guess you would say that working hard at school is not as important as investing your efforts in sports.

  7. We have played football for 2 seasons and last year was much improved. As far as I remember we didn’t have any location changes for games. I had 2 boys on 2 different teams. I am thankful that my boys have the opportunity to play football on the island, and I am thankful that the league has teams at Foster, Kadena and Courtney. To know that the entire league (over 400+) kids was run by only volunteers is impressive. We have played MCCS sports, and find the practice schedule to be lacking. What can you really learn in 1 hour two times per week. That is not even considered enough exercise for a child. My children love football, baseball, soccer, basketball any/all sports. We love OYF, we found the league to be great, the instruction awesome and the camaraderie unforgettable. We can’t wait for another season and we wish all the other private leagues were ran as professionally.

  8. Both of our sons played for OYFL this past season and my daughter cheered. I would not exactly say that we were satisfied with the overall experience. I’ll start with my daughter’s cheerleading experience. We paid way more for her to cheerlead than we would have paid through youth sports, but she did not get anymore out of it than she would have had we paid less for her to cheer for youth sports. It’s the same kind of cheerleading little girls do when you hand them some plastic pom-poms and teach them catchy little chants. Half the girls on my daughter’s team misbehaved most of the time, and the coach did little about it. It was a waste of our money. Now about the football… My boys are different ages and were on different teams. My youngest son’s head coach was a no-show half the time. My oldest son’s coach was very dedicated but took the whole thing a little too seriously. He had practice every day of the week for 2.5 hours. I asked him when the kids were supposed to have time to do homework and study. He told me that the kids should be doing school work as soon as they get home from school and be ready to practice for the rest of the night (yet they claim to have a policy regarding school grades in order for kids to play…). At my boys’ games, coaches from rival teams used to show up to study their plays in an effort to gain some type of edge. Oh brother! It’s youth football, not the NFL!

  9. My son didn’t play the first year. He played the season when the so-called “new and improved” management had taken over. I couldn’t imagine how awful it must have been before the new management took over if that is what was considered improvement. Like I said, talk to other parents and see if OYFL is something you want to invest your time and money in. My son’s coaches were very dedicated and knowledgable people. However, that was the only positive part of the organization for us.

  10. The program has evolved largely due to the efforts of a few that volunteer countless hours. This league was started from scratch so sure it took a minute, but the mentoring both my sons had has allowed them to be better athletes and citizens. OYFL keep up the good work.

  11. Football is not offered on the Island any where else unless your in high school!!! MCCS is a monopoly and you get what you pay for and Kadena youth sports is no better. The first year the league was being taken over by new members and if you would of stuck around for another year you would see that there has been many changes for the better. I highly recommend OYF to any one coming on Island or who would like their child to get a real football experience!!!


  12. It was really disorganized a few years ago, fortunately they have new management and those issues were all fixed. Last year was so much better! My son is very excited now, and we cannot wait to start playing this year.

  13. You should really ask different people about OYF before you sign your child up to play. My son played two years ago and we won’t be signing up for OYF again. He had great coaches, however, the season was a disorganized mess. Game locations kept being changed on us last-minute, and we wound up having to pay more money for extra costs that our $175 registration fee didn’t cover for some reason. The playing season was short, and I was not thrilled about the fact that my fourth grader was expected to spend two hours per night, five days a week practicing football.

    • The Internet is an easy place for negative people to be negative without understanding how their comments could hurt the kids. I have been an assistant coach for two years and I was so surprised to see how much effort the people have volunteered of their free time to give our children the opportunity to learn and play football. But for this efforts of this dedicated group, our kids would miss the important years of learning basic fundamentals, which could be the difference of being able to play in their high school years. The best way to make a difference is get involved. I think we had a volunteer coach for every two kids last year and the kids learned and grew a lot. Please don’t let one person’s negative experience keep you from supporting a great league. Thank you OYFL. Coach Randy. Go Long Horns!