Driving the Nation’s Leading Youth Football Standards into Law

For Immediate Release

California Youth Football Alliance Drives the Nation’s Leading Youth Football Standards into Law

Larkspur, CA – August 2, 2019 - The California Youth Football Alliance (CAYFA) today announced the signing of AB 1, the California Youth Football Act, by Governor Gavin Newsom. AB 1 provides the most comprehensive and details set of safety standards in the United States. Further, AB 1 serves as the first state legislation in the United States to specify youth tackle football safety standards, pioneering a new way forward for all youth tackle football in America.

“I am thrilled to memorialize our unique voice as informed parents, veteran football coaches & administrators, volunteers, and medical experts in AB 1” said Joe Rafter, Co-Founder and President of the CAYFA. “We are deeply honored to sponsor AB 1 with Asm. Cooper, and thank Governor Newsom for his endorsement. As we know social change in our country moves from the West Coast to the East Coast. We are proud to continue the legacy of the state of California as a social change leader for football and our country.”

The CAYFA was founded in September 2018 with a mission to honor, improve, and advance youth tackle football. Since launch, the CAYFA has sponsored AB 1, established partnerships to enable more affordable compliance with AB 1, and established a Medical Advisory Committee with world class physicians and medical personnel from across the country to provide expertise and insight. The CAYFA is now focused on helping all youth tackle football organizations in California to enthusiastically adopt AB 1.

"No matter which organization you choose to play for in California, you'll know that the standards for player safety are uniform and the play environment will be a safer place for all players. This is a win for all California youth football families and players", said Steve Famiano, Co-Founder and EVP of Community Development for the CAYFA.

Ron White, EVP of Standards and Practices for the CAYFA added “California has just taken a huge step forward by raising safety standards for its youth tackle football participants via AB 1, the California Youth Football Act. The positive impact this bill will have on current and future generations both inside and outside the state is a true game changer.”

AB1 goes into effect in January of 2021 to enable programs two seasons of transition.

About California Youth Football Alliance: The CAYFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to transforming youth tackle football by honoring our past, improving our present, and advancing our future so that more generations of student-athletes, coaches, and communities can experience the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical developmental benefits of the sport. Visit www.cayfa.org to learn more.


CAYFA + Atavus = Better Football for California

Bakersfield, CA - As the game of American Tackle Football continues to evolve at what can be described as a rapid and progressive pace, it’s comforting to know that the industry is being shaped by those who have taken a vested interest in its future.

The California Youth Football Alliance and Atavus, the leading authority on tackle performance, analysis, and coaching technique, have partnered in an effort to bring the California Youth Tackle Football Community a voice of advocacy coupled with a toolbox of robust and innovative tackle football coaching curriculum that will help drive the type of radical transformation that the sport and its participants have longed for.

The pairing of the California Youth Football Alliance and Atavus could not have come at a better time. The sport of youth tackle football is going through what could be considered a transitional period in its long and rich history. The way we approach all aspects of the game today is significantly different than past generations. The “three yards and a cloud of dust” mentality has given way to a new generation of football. Although the game may look and feel a bit different today, its deep rooted and colorful history is the very foundation on which the sport was built on.

The California Youth Football Alliance and Atavus are filling long-standing and often generational voids in these areas by offering consumer-friendly products and services for well over 100,000 youth tackle football families in the state.

Regardless of where you reside in California, many of the same challenges exist within the youth tackle football landscape. What is the right coaching content and certification base for our organization? Does it make the game safer? Is it affordable? Is the curriculum youth tackle football friendly?

Those questions have now been answered by Atavus via its performance driven and safety enhanced tackling system. With a focus on player safety and the ability to track and analyze individual player performance utilizing its groundbreaking Tacklytics platform, Atavus is changing the we both think about tackling and approach the game of tackle football.

From a pure coaching perspective, the ability to make the game safer, implement and teach data driven tackling techniques, paired with the capacity to measure player performance while establishing desired outcomes is simply revolutionary.

The Atavus Shoulder-led tackling concepts and organization specific certification programs are both innovative and player friendly. Moving a player’s head to the side while performing a tackle is a critical component of the system and will serve to help re-culture our approach to contact.m Youth Tackle football coaches are a unique breed and as volunteers they simply coach for the love of the game. Volunteer coaches are the lifeblood of the tackle football community and are deserving of the type of coaching curriculum that only Atavus can provide.

From somebody who has donned a whistle and walked the sidelines for well over three decades now, it’s refreshing to see a comprehensive tackling system that provides content that has the ability to produce higher performing, more confident, and engaged players at an affordable price point.

The California Youth Football Alliance and Atavus are collectively “moving the game forward”.

California Youth Football Alliance and Atavus Raise the Tackling Standard for Youth Football

For Immediate Release

 New Partnership with Atavus Enables Youth Football Coaches to Access Leading Edge Tackling Education and Certification Across California

Larkspur, CA - July 22, 2019 - The California Youth Football Alliance (CAYFA) and Atavus, the leader in football coach education and tackling assessment, today announced a partnership to bring the Atavus Tackle System to youth football coaches in California through access to Atavus’ tackling certification. Youth coaches in California will receive instruction in Atavus’ shoulder-led tackling technique prior to taking an assessment to become certified. Once successfully certified, coaches will receive access to Atavus’ online library of drill videos and other tools to take their learning onto the field.

“Tackling techniques and instruction are rapidly developing, and Atavus is the premier company making it happen with their Digital Tackling Academy and certification,” said Joe Rafter, co-founder and President of the CAYFA. “Until now, education and certification in tackling technique for youth coaches have been limited in variety, value, and impact. Atavus has fundamentally re-imagined and re-designed the tackling process. We are thrilled to offer our football community this exclusively priced option so they can improve their safety and performance simultaneously.”

Atavus educates coaches and players at all skill levels, working with elite college football programs such as Michigan State University, Rutgers University, University of Cincinnati, and Cornell University. Atavus also works with high school programs, and in 2018 was chosen by the Texas High School Coaches Association as the official and exclusive provider of tackling certification for its 23,000 member coaches.

The Atavus Tackle System is built around a shoulder-led technique that is both fundamentally sound and safer. The goal is to control movement, make effective contact, and to maximize power while reducing unnecessary head contact. Coaches use Atavus’ technique and practice plans to produce more confident and more prepared players.

“The leadership shown by CAYFA has been impressive and puts California coaches, parents, and players in the vanguard of a movement to improve player safety,” said Karen Bryant, chief executive officer of Atavus. “We are pleased to play our part in making sure football is safer for California’s young athletes.”

"As the game of tackle football continues to evolve and transform at all levels of play, it is vital that proven and innovative teaching techniques coupled with cutting edge sport specific technology remains at the forefront. Atavus, the sports premier tackling education and certification provider sets the new standard in this area by providing the most advanced and comprehensive coaching content in the country” said Ron White, co-founder and EVP of Standards and Practices of the CAYFA.

About California Youth Football Alliance

The CAYFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to transforming youth tackle football by honoring our past, improving our present, and advancing our future so that more generations of student-athletes, coaches, and communities can experience the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical developmental benefits of the sport. Learn more at www.cayfa.org

About Atavus

Atavus provides a modern, impactful solution for coaches at all levels of football to improve performance and safety in tackling. Atavus has developed the first and most comprehensive system rooted in technique and fundamentals using innovative, detailed analytics. Atavus measures performance and offers consulting services to provide coaches on-site and remote assessment, coupled with specific tackle plans backed by advanced technology. Learn more at www.atavus.com.


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California Youth Football Alliance Improves Safety Education and Training for Youth Football

Press Release

For Immediate Release

New Partnership with the National Center for Sports Safety Makes First Aid Training More Affordable to Administrators and Coaches Across California

Larkspur, CA - June 17, 2019 - The California Youth Football Alliance (CAYFA) today announced a partnership with the National Center for Sports Safety (NCSS) to expand the adoption of their PREPARE first aid training tailored for the CAYFA.

The PREPARE course educates users on sports safety, illness and injury prevention. It educates how to recognize symptoms of potentially dangerous conditions and how to respond in emergency situations. It includes and goes far beyond concussion education. Upon successful completion of the course, the user receives a safety certificate. The CAYFA version of the course is available on their website and will be discounted for the California tackle football community with a portion of the proceeds to be donated back to the Alliance to help fund their mission.

“We are proud to have the NCSS stand with us and enable the California football community to acquire world-class health and safety education in a scalable and affordable manner. Partnership with a national safety focused organization like the NCSS offers a unique affirmation of our direction and the value we are creating in California,” said Joe Rafter, co-founder and President of the CAYFA.

“We are excited to be partnering with The California Youth Football Alliance to help make youth football a safer sport throughout the state. When club administrators, parents, coaches, and lawmakers all come together with one mission of protecting kids, positive action will take place and we are looking forward to doing our part,” said NCSS executive director, Joseph Longoria.

A proven course released in 2004, PREPARE has educated more than 30,000 coaches nationwide—and the number grows every day! The course is reviewed and updated regularly by an expert board of delegates and is a must-have course for all youth sports community members in any sport at any age.

“At such a crucial and transformational time in the sport of tackle football, it is only fitting that The California Youth Football Alliance and the National Center for Sports Safety team up to bring the youth tackle football community of California the most robust safety curriculum and certification base offered in the country. The collective standard of care provided by this partnership will serve those currently playing as well as future generations to come,” said Ron White, co-founder and EVP of Standards and Practices of the CAYFA.

In 2001, after identifying a need to decrease the number and severity of injuries to youth, recreation and high school athletes, Dr. Lawrence Lemak founded the National Center for Sports Safety (NCSS). This partnership now allows the NCSS and CAYFA to enhance player safety by combining world class online sports safety, illness and injury prevention training with CAYFA’s drive to honor, improve, and advance youth tackle football.

About California Youth Football Alliance: The CAYFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to transforming youth tackle football by honoring our past, improving our present, and advancing our future so that more generations of student-athletes, coaches, and communities can experience the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical developmental benefits of the sport.

California Youth Football Alliance

Contact: Steve Famiano.  1 760-559-0426


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The California Youth Football Alliance and Helmetfitting.com Join Forces to Enhance Student-Athlete Safety Off and On the Field

Larkspur, CA - June 10, 2019 - In their ongoing effort to create the best possible environment for youth tackle football in California, the California Youth Football Alliance (CAYFA) has signed a unique partnership with HelmetFittiing.com to proactively enhance athlete safety before they ever step on the field.

Click here for your 75% discount!

Proper fitting equipment is critical for achieving student-athlete safety, meanwhile HelmetFitting.com and CAYFA continue to see an alarming number of athletes playing football wearing improperly fitting equipment. Therefore, HelmetFitting.com and CAYFA have joined forces to equip California Youth Football parents and coaches with access to HelmetFitting.com’s eLearning Youth (14 and Under) Football Equipment Fitting Certification.

HelmetFittiing.com is offering training via the CAYFA website at exclusive pricing and a portion of the sales will be donated back to the Alliance to help fund their mission.

“An often overlooked portion of the game is an absolute need for proper equipment fitting. HelmetFitting.com has just addressed that need via its first of a kind and extremely robust youth tackle football equipment fitting certification course. The safest helmet worn by a student athlete, is the one that fits correctly,” said Ron White, CAYFA’s EVP of Standards and practices.

CAYFA is California’s first statewide youth football organization dedicated to honor, improve, and advance youth tackle football through education, research and development. HelmetFitting.com offers the first, and only, football equipment fitting certification based on manufacturer guidelines for anyone who sells and/or fits football equipment.

“As an equipment manager, my focus is on the safety aspect of sports and the role equipment plays in securing athletes’ safety. It is an honor to partner with the CAYFA to optimize athlete safety through the power of education on how to properly fit football equipment.” – Dana Marquez, E.M., C., Helmetfitting.com Founder

HelmetFitting.com was founded as an opportunity to share decades of expertise of fitting sports equipment with parents and coaches to offer the highest level of safety for athletes at every level. The CAYFA partnership now allows HelmetFitting.com to enhance player safety by combining two decades of equipment expertise with CAYFA’s drive to honor, improve, and advance youth tackle football.

About California Youth Football Alliance: The CAYFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to transforming youth tackle football by honoring our past, improving our present, and advancing our future so that more generations of student-athletes, coaches, and communities can experience the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical developmental benefits of the sport.

For more information:

Steve Famiano

California Youth Football Alliance

+1 760-559-0426

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About HelmetFitting.com: HelmetFitting.com brings industry experts together to get athletes fit to play at every level. HelmetFitting.com features step-by-step eLearning and in-person seminars that teach parents, coaches and athletic personnel how to properly fit football equipment according to manufacturer guidelines. Empowering parents, coaches and athletic personnel is HelmetFitting.com founder Dana Marquez’s mission, and fostering a positive culture surrounding impact sports is his passion.

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Liz Marquez, COO, Helmetfitting.com



LIGHT Helmet Announces California Youth Football Alliance as Thought-Leading Partner for Youth Football

Larkspur, CA - May 20, 2019 - In keeping with their commitment to honor, improve, and advance youth tackle football, the California Youth Football Alliance (CAYFA) is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership with LIGHT Helmets as an exclusive and preferred helmet provider serving the youth tackle football community. This partnership represents the first equipment provider that the Alliance is partnering with in the youth market to accelerate the transformation of youth tackle football.

LIGHT Helmets offers the world’s lightest Virginia Tech 5 star rated football helmets which demonstrates a unique, innovative, and sincere commitment to safety and performance in tackle football. LIGHT helmets is offering discounted helmets via the CAYFA website, and a portion of the sales will be donated back to the Alliance to help fund their mission.

“Coming off the heels of our first two partnerships which were focused on health and education, LIGHT Helmets is our first partner to offer products that will make a significant and immediate impact on the tackle football field”, said CAYFA President, Joe Rafter. “We see the Light Helmet products as improving safety and performance on the field for all football players.”

“LIGHT Helmets entered this market as a disruptive force to advance player safety and protect the game of football,” Nick Esayian, LIGHT Helmets CEO, said. “We couldn’t have found a better partner than the California Football Alliance, who shares those goals and has a proven track record of being an active and effective steward of the game. We take great pride in aligning our efforts so that future generations can enjoy and benefit from America’s sport, the game of football.”

Redefining how a football helmet should look, feel and act, LIGHT Helmets uses lighter yet stronger materials through manufacturing techniques developed in motorsports and the military. All models incorporate the only commercially available auxetic foam on the market as a liner, exclusively from military manufacturer Auxadyne, and come standard with SportsStar chin straps and Douglas EZ Pro Snaps.

The LS-1 Youth model from LIGHT Helmets is designed to grow with the young athlete. The interior padding and foam can be replaced to grow along with the child until reaching adult sizes. This feature also saves teams and leagues money, as each LIGHT Helmet can fit each player on the team – rather than being forced to purchase extra helmets so that there are enough of each size.

“The Future of tackle football has just gotten significantly brighter with the introduction of the LIGHT Football Helmet,” said CAYFA EVP of Standards and Practices, Ron White. “Born out of a desire to simply make the game safer and more enjoyable for its participants, LIGHT Helmets has done that and more with the release of their full line of youth and adult football helmets for the 2019 season. With innovative engineering utilizing military grade materials, this helmet now stands alone as the lightest helmet on the market. Sleek design, performance enhancing features, and a substantial reduction in weight, separates this helmet from its competitors”.

About California Youth Football Alliance: The CAYFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to transforming youth tackle football by honoring our past, improving our present, and advancing our future so that more generations of student-athletes, coaches, and communities can experience the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical developmental benefits of the sport.

About LIGHT Helmets: LIGHT Helmets produces lighter, safer, more performance-oriented helmets for football and other contact sports and is currently the fifth largest football helmet producer in the country. Our mission is to better protect the players and their games through lighter and safer helmets that use the best materials and technology available. LIGHT Helmets empowers players at all levels to maximize their potential and enjoyment of the game by equipping them with the most innovative helmets available on the market. Visit https://www.lighthelmets.com for more information.

An Historical Moment in Boston

Today marks an historical moment, no less significant than Tiger's comeback at the Masters three days ago, or the Boston Marathon completed Monday. In fact, our country has experienced many historical moments right here in this beautiful city of Boston. This city was founded in Sept, 1630 by colonists who lived a lifestyle with a strong emphasis on the importance of education. In December, 1773, our forefathers, the Sons of Liberty, sparked the Boston Tea Party in the bay that sits just over those buildings, and 243 years ago to the very same month, Paul Revere rode through the night warning us that our freedom was at risk. Our historical moment today is the launch of a National movement to Save Youth Football!

I am proud to rally with you on these same streets, with a new Paul, Paul Dauderis of the Massachusetts Youth Football Alliance, leading the charge through the streets of Massachusetts against a new threat to our freedoms from a group that is pushing an anti-tackle football agenda using emotions of fear and loss, hardly representative of our American mindset of freedom, growth, and love. I stand before you, to represent the great state of California, your brothers and sisters from the West Coast, and the National Football Fraternity to support your freedom to play tackle football at any age and your continual pursuit of improving the game to make it better and safer so future generations of Americans may continue to learn values like team work, overcoming adversity, and sacrifice for others from the sport.

My name is Joe Rafter, and I am a co-founder and President of the California Youth Football Alliance, where we are relentlessly accelerating the advancement of youth tackle football. We, as the youth football community, bear a significant responsibility with respect to the future of football and youth sports as a whole. We are a new age Football Sons of Liberty and we are pursuing consistent safety standards while maintaining the freedom to play your choice of football. While we are starting with football, we appreciate that this safety discussion won't end until all sports are able to meet comparable standards in their communities.

We have walked in your shoes. We faced a youth tackle football ban in CA one year ago. We now stand side-by-side with you as you fight for your freedoms with tackle football today and in the future. On April 11th we published an amendment to the California Youth Football Act, in partnership with Assemblymember Cooper from Sacramento, CA. This Act proposes the most comprehensive and detailed youth tackle football safety standards in the country, and demonstrates the commitment that the Alliance has towards our communities across America. We are recruiting you to join us by embracing this progressive legislative direction.

And while legislation will help, what really matters is making things better for every repetition of every drill in every practice, of every week, of every season for this year and every year thereafter. This is relentless improvement. Our youth deserve the very best in coaching, administration, quality of play, and duty of care, so we are partnering with world class providers to make this a reality for our youth. We recently announced our first partnership, with InjureFree, a technology provider whose mission is to transform pediatric care in America. With InjureFree we will be able to educate parents, coaches, administrators, and referees on health and safety topics as well as manage the return to play protocols in all 50 states. Solutions like InjureFree and others, when installed in the spirit of safety at all costs over a win at all costs mentality, will continue to advance our sport and allow our children to enjoy youth tackle football for years to come.

We have an incredible gathering here today, and I have a few key messages to specific groups regarding our shared future with youth tackle football.

For our legislators, we invite you to work closely with us. We have been making youth tackle football safer for years, and we are not done. Get to know us and our sport before you cast judgement. We love our children, and our sport. We all want the same thing, the safest possible environment for our children to develop physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Get to know us. Come learn how much love we are pouring into our children and communities through the great sport of football.

For the medical community, our children need you now more than ever. In a time where children are spending more time in front of screens, youth sports increase in importance. Childhood obesity rate among 2- to 19-year-olds is 18.5 percent. Childhood obesity remains an American epidemic. More than 12 million U.S. children are obese — one out of every six children. Our children need youth sports, especially tackle football because our sport welcomes and reveres all levels, shapes, and sizes of student-athletes. I am one of those boys who avoided an unhealthy lifestyle by playing football. We want to join forces with you to put process, technology, and research together in a purposeful way to medically and responsibly inform our legislative future to make football better and safer.  (https://stateofobesity.org/childhood-obesity-trends/).

For the clinicians and researchers in traumatic brain injury, we see you holding a high standard of education with respect to the media coverage of the brain, true to the form of the founders of the great City of Boston, as published in the Lancet on March 1, 2019. We appreciate your challenge to the current media narrative. We seek truth for our children, communities, and future Americans while the opposition, who are well funded by large corporate donors, operating with media savvy, are weaponizing science and sport to attack youth tackle football for financial gain. We must not stand by idlily and accept this false narrative. We want the truth, and we trust you to find it for our society.

For the media, we are the voice of 3M football families across America. We are a quiet majority that is under attack by a vocal minority. We challenge you to heed the words of the medical community and bring a more balanced degree of social responsibility to your reporting. We specifically invite you to help us celebrate our everyday story of volunteerism, improvement, and love for our families, communities, and sport.

For the National Football Fraternity, our big brothers and sisters in the high school, college, and professional football world, your youngest sibling is getting bullied on the playground we call tackle football. You are bigger, and stronger, with more organizational structure, so they are targeting the youth market because they think we are weak. They are learning differently! We will continue to stand up to those who bully us, and we ask that more of you, like Merrill and Andre join us and this cause.

And for the parents and players of youth tackle football in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the opposition wants you to believe that your youth tackle football is broken, not worthy, and should be cast aside. We are here today because we passionately disagree! In fact, everything about our sport says the very opposite of being broken. As a youth football coach, I know that this sport has never been safer to play and that my fellow coaches in Massachusetts and beyond are making it so through hard work, volunteerism, education, and living our football culture of relentless improvement.

Football is a victim of a faulty generalization. A faulty generalization is when someone draws a far-reaching conclusion about all or many situations, based on just one or a few observations of that situation. Simply said, some people are jumping to conclusions about football. You may have experienced this bias yourself when you witness others generalize about all people, or all members of a group, based on what they know about just one or just a few people. If we see only white swans, we may suspect that all swans are white. Faulty generalizations may lead to further incorrect conclusions. We may, for example, conclude that citizens of country X are inferior, or that poverty is generally the fault of the poor, or that one sport causes CTE.

We cannot allow a limited data set of research with a narrow bias, to be used to cast a wide conclusion across everyone. This is the faulty generalization of CTE science. Make no mistake, I love my football players more than I love my sport. This means that I seek the truth, and will continue fighting to protect our children's safety by making football safer every year.

To our Opposition, I want to extend the same invitation to you that we have to others. By launching another bill against our sport and children, you continue to take us down a path of conflict. This is not constructive. Instead of attacking us with faulty generalizations, we invite you to work with us. Many of us have been working to make our sport safer for decades. We want to work together for the benefit of our children, and we are prepared to fight if you continue on your current path. Our sport is a gift to our communities. Our coaches are gifts to our sport, and our children are blessed to play youth tackle football. We are ALL on the job to accelerate the advancement of youth tackle football in a medically informed manner. Will you join us in our work to continue making youth tackle football safer, and ultimately all youth sports safer?

In closing, I am reminded of the eternal wisdom of the late great Dr. Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."   We are a passionate, disciplined, and committed national fraternity of football, and we want a different path, one influenced by love. Love of scientific truth, love of our children, love of our grandchildren, love of the American way of life in our local communities, and love of the great sport of football!



The California Youth Football Alliance Elevates the Safety Standards for Youth Tackle Football to a New High

SAN FRANCISCO / April 16, 2019  - Following up on their commitment to continually advance the great sport of youth tackle football, the California Youth Football Alliance (CAYFA) is pleased to announce an amendment to AB 1, the California Youth Football Act to accelerate the advancement of football by offering a higher safety standard for the youth tackle football community of California.

“This amendment represents the most comprehensive and stringent set of safety standards for youth tackle football in the country.” said Joe Rafter, President of the California Youth Football Alliance. “We are proud to sponsor AB-1 with Assemblymember Cooper (D-Elk Grove), and we do so with great care having placed a significant amount of research, analysis, and consideration into the requirements to create a safer environment for our children who play youth tackle football.”

AB 1, as amended, requires new health and safety education for parents, coaches, administrators, and referees, mandates football training that minimizes the head in play, and implements injury tracking to name a few of the requirements. These requirements have been tailored for the youth tackle football environment in California. The CAYFA will continue to work with the California football community, the medical community, legislators, and supporting stakeholders like industry experts to solicit feedback and insight on the bill. When AB 1 was originally published, the CAYFA committed to support compliance with existing safety standards as well as create new standards and practices that will honor, improve, and advance the sport of youth tackle football, and this bill demonstrates clear action to this end.

“We are now asking the California youth football community to show their love of their children and the great sport of football, by contacting their local assembly member to express enthusiastic support for AB 1. Our community is full of passion and determination, and we have work ahead of us still. We must aim all of our energy towards the passing of this bill for the best interests of our current and future generations of Californian youth football players. Everyone who supports AB 1, demonstrates an impeccable commitment towards raising safety standards and creating the best possible environment for our youth tackle football players.” said Rafter.

“Americans love football and kids love playing football. However, we must ensure our children are safe while playing contact sports. I am proud to author AB 1 the California Youth Football Act to ensure kids will be able to play football as well as creating a safer environment for them when they partake in contact sports,” said Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove).

The CAYFA has posted AB 1, as amended, to their website where you can also download their 25+ page support letter describing why this bill is in the best interest of California youth tackle football with over 30 reference articles used to help shape the amendment.


The CAYFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to transforming youth tackle football by honoring our past, improving our present, and advancing our future so that more generations of student-athletes, coaches, and communities can experience the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical developmental benefits of the sport. For more information, please visit www.cayfa.org.

Press inquiries can be made to info@cayfa.org

Youth Football Takes Another Step Forward


San Francisco, CA - March 27, 2019 - In their continuing efforts to honor, improve, and advance youth tackle football, the California Youth Football Alliance (CAYFA) is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with InjureFree as a key technology partner to serve the youth tackle football community. This partnership will deliver a custom digital platform, called the Alliance Management Platform (AMP), that will simplify, standardize, and deploy the CAYFA risk management framework for youth tackle football organizations.

The AMP digital platform will provide three critical capabilities to CAYFA members: (1) delivery and managing completion of state / federal health and safety education mandates, (2) incident documentation & player eligibility management, and (3) return to play protocol administration.

CAYFA President, Joe Rafter, said, “This partnership signals our first step towards enacting improvements in youth tackle football with a digital management system focused on implementing health and safety risk management, demonstrating compliance with state and federal health and safety mandates, and offering an extensible platform that delivers incremental unique value to our members for years to come. We are honored to enhance health and safety for our communities while bringing youth tackle football into the digital age.”

“The AMP will be the premiere digital enabler of efficient and effective safety risk management and a trusted source of data, regarding the metrics we will use to accelerate the evolution of youth tackle football. There is too much speculation and not enough data regarding the truths of youth tackle football. The AMP will serve as the system of record to unambiguously clarify the management of health, safety, and football conditions for all our members today and in the future.” Rafter added.

Each season, volunteer roles like parent, coach, and others are managed to ensure proper education is provided per state requirements. Student-athletes’ play status is managed within the AMP as well. If a child is injured and medical attention is required, as is the case in any concussion protocol, the player is marked as ineligible to play. Parents are able to manage the return to play protocol by scheduling appointments with regional health systems, orthopedic groups, and even urgent care centers through the AMP parent portal.  The new platform enables access to medical providers for parents and children in their time of need and offers an alternate path to specialty care outside of traditional models, which could require long lead times to schedule an appointment.

The CAYFA members who implement the AMP have improved measurement and monitoring of the health and safety conditions for their leagues, associations, coaches, parents, and players. The coaches who use the AMP play an active role in creating and sustaining a healthier and safer team. Parents who engage with the AMP gain access to better care for their child while increasing their visibility into the true health and safety conditions of their child’s athletic environment. Players benefit from the AMP through the creation of a healthier and safer tackle football environment with improved duty of care. Everyone knows that any League, Association, or Coach who has adopted the AMP is making a rigorous public health and safety commitment to Honor our game, Improve the player environment and Advance youth tackle football for years to come. 

InjureFree CEO, Charlie Wund, states, “The Alliance is laying the foundation for the future of all youth football, contact or otherwise.”

“We have seen youth sports react to growing concerns regarding concussions and other injuries.  State and federal legislation mandate safety protocols, in order for youth sports organizations to provide a safer environment for their children. With new legislative requirements regarding heat illness, sudden cardiac arrest, and other concerns around the corner, associations are scrambling to keep up and stay ahead.  The AMP is an example of how the Alliance is rebuilding youth football from the ground up, with a safety-first mindset, and providing the technology to manage compliance within their membership.” Wund adds.

With InjureFree, the CAYFA is taking an important step by activating a modern digital platform for the coming 2019 season, while enabling our future generations to enjoy additional improvements as football continues to evolve. The CAYFA calls upon all states and legislators to create a better world for our future generations through improved data and process management made possible by the AMP, and avoid giving into the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that is frequently presented in our current society.

This move comes just months after US Youth Soccer, the largest youth sport organization in America and the leader in youth soccer, partnered with InjureFree to develop a custom risk management platform for over 3 million youth soccer athletes nationally.

“We are revolutionizing pediatric healthcare access. Today, parents demand a personal experience for their children, and expect immediate access to care when a child gets hurt,” Wund said. Rafter added, “Through the AMP, parents will be able to connect with local health care providers, who are committed to delivering quality care and within 24 to 48 hours. That could be an existing partner provider, or one vetted within the InjureFree network. Each association has the autonomy to make its own choice who they partner with. This partnership creates remarkable value for our youth tackle football community.”


Joe Rafter, CAYFA, joe@cayfa.org, 415-413-3313

Julie Beltz, InjureFree, julie.beltz@injurefree.com, 866-591-2747 x804

About the California Youth Football Alliance (CAYFA)

The CAYFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to transforming youth tackle football by honoring our past, improving our present, and advancing our future so that more generations of student-athletes, coaches, and communities can experience the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical developmental benefits of the sport. For more information, please visit www.cayfa.org.


About InjureFree

InjureFree is a web-based technology service empowering child safety initiatives and risk management for youth sports organizations and schools. InjureFree provides an all-in-one solution that helps organizations maintain compliance with state and federal laws, reduce paperwork, and provide a communication platform during injury recovery - including return to play documentation. For more information, please visit www.InjureFree.com

CAYFA Opposes the Bill to Ban Youth Tackle Football in Massachusetts

SAN FRANCISCO / February 25, 2018  - On Thursday, February 21, The California Youth Football Alliance learned that Representatives Paul A. Schmid, III and Bradley H. Jones, Jr. introduced "An Act for no organized head impacts to schoolchildren" in Massachusetts, and we are called to express our disappointment and opposition to such a bill.

Upon review of the bill language, and further correspondence about the bill from it's co-authors, we can only recommend that all Massachusetts athletic communities oppose this bill. We deeply regret that another attack on youth football has arisen, as we believe this bill, like it's predecessors, is mis-informed with a biased view of the current day medical and athletic facts combined with personal agendas.

The subject of athletic safety including the science of the brain is a rapidly evolving topic in our society. Over 60 neurologists from around the world recently published a paper in The Lancet stating:

"Contrary to common perception, the clinical syndrome of CTE has not yet been fully defined, its prevalence is unknown, and the neuropathological diagnostic criteria are no more than preliminary. We have an incomplete understanding of the extent or distribution of pathology required to produce neurological dysfunction or to distinguish diseased from healthy tissue, with the neuropathological changes of CTE reported in apparently asymptomatic individuals. Although commonly quoted, no consensus agreement has been reached on staging the severity of CTE pathology. A single focus of the pathology implicated in CTE is not yet sufficient evidence to define disease."

Further, in a time where an average of 2.5 million medical papers are published each year according to research from the University of Ottowa, and the 4+ million results returned when you search for "concussion medical papers 2018" and "CTE medical papers 2018" combined, the volume of change in the science of the brain is accelerating.

Meanwhile, all our athletes from the football fields to the basketball gyms deserve the very best safety conditions that we as a society can offer so they may continue to develop lifelong lessons from the athletic development that football and other sports offer. We must continue to seek the truth to accelerate the evolution of football and all other contact sports in a measured and medically informed manner. Many advances in athletic safety have been achieved in the recent past, including youth tackle football. The truth is that the sport of football has never been safer, and it continues that journey every rep of every practice and game in every season. We must not stop our athletic development at any level. We must accelerate the science of the brain. When it comes to the safety considerations in any athletic sport, including football, we believe that our athletic community should seek medical advice from world class physicians, not political representation. We must hold our legislators accountable to pursue and achieve the highest truth as it relates to medical research, education, and duty of care.  

Given the current athletic, medical, and political environmental considerations:

  • We invite other athletic organizations in the professional and amateur arenas such as the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), to join us to proactively address the current day safety crisis in all our athletic communities. Safety, particular head safety, must be the #1 concern for all athletic communities, and more needs to be done immediately for our current and future athletes.

  • We believe that more medical research and public education is necessary to keep pace with the rapidly evolving science of the brain. To this end, we wish to emphasize the work of world-class institutions like the University of Pittsburg Medical Center and TeachAids to rally the research, education, diagnosis, and treatment of our athletes.

  • We call for a medically informed safety evolution of all sports, starting with football. 

We will support all those who seek the truth regarding safety in our country's sports and fields of competition. We stand by the athletic communities of Massachusetts, and other states, especially those who have been unjustly targeted in this particular bill, the youth tackle football community. Please visit the Save Youth Football - Massachusetts Facebook group and follow @savefootballMA on Twitter to stay in touch with the efforts in the state.

Our athletes and our country needs us to come together around the subject of brain science and athletics. To the extent that we work collaboratively to this end, everyone will benefit, and if we allow the continued divisiveness, we will only prolong our path to achieving the optimal solution.


The purpose of the CAYFA is to advance youth tackle football by honoring our past, improving our present, and advancing our future so that more generations of student-athletes, coaches, and communities can experience the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical developmental benefits of the sport. For more information, please visit www.cayfa.org.

Press inquiries can be made to info@cayfa.org


CAYFA's Newest Members of the Board of Directors

CAYFA Logo.jpg


Making Youth Tackle Football the Safest Sport in California

SAN FRANCISCO / January 22, 2019 - As a further step towards making youth tackle football the safest sport in California, we are pleased to announce the expansion of our Board of Directors by welcoming three new board members. These new board members will help advance the work of the CAYFA while working closely with our Executive Officers.

Dr. Peter Cummings

Dr. Cummings is board certified in anatomic pathology, neuropathology and forensic pathology. When asked what motivated him to work with the CAYFA, Dr. Cummings said “I am honored to be asked to join the board of directors for CAYFA. It's always been my philosophy that you are either part of the problem or part of the solution; CAYFA is part of the solution. I have great respect for the way a group of football coaches and parents came together in a proactive effort to guide positive change and what they've accomplished to this point is inspiring. The strategies CAYFA is developing to constantly improve safety and compliance while enhancing the enjoyment of the game for all interested parties is unique and empowering.”

Chris Fore

Chris Fore is a veteran Athletic Director, Football Coach and Teacher from Southern California. When asked why he chose to engage the CAYFA, Chris said “I am honored to be invited to serve on this board. There's no doubt that there is a lot of work to do here in California to help regulate youth football to make it more safe for children. I look forward to working with these tremendous individuals as we strive to honor, improve, and advance the great game of football in the Golden State.”

Merril Hoge

Merril is a former NFL Running Back, Best-Selling Author, and Motivational Speaker. When asked why he accepted the invitation to engage the CAYFA as a board member, Merril shared “I’m honored to be a part of the CAYFA board. This board is filled with people that find solutions and take action to make youth football the safest it can possibly be! I have been a part of football and youth sports for over 45 years as a player, coach, and most importantly a parent. I was the first player/coach/parent to address congress to establish a head trauma protocol in 2009! I have been implementing ways to practice and play along with protocols on head trauma and hydration to make football safer than it has ever been since 1991. Being a part of the CAYFA board we have a chance to improve the environment even more for all youth football players in the state of California and eventually the entire country!! This is just the start, we will Find A Way to educate and improve in all areas for our kids!!”

When asked about the formation of this board and the initial members, Joe Rafter shared “We are excited to welcome Peter, Chris, and Merril to our board. I can’t imagine a better group of people to launch our board. Peter brings a world class medical background combined with a passion for youth football and will serve as our Chief Medical Advisor. Chris is miles deep with football content as a coach and administrator with an unparalleled network in the California football community. Merril is a leader on and off the field with remarkable life experiences, leadership courage, and football achievements.” Mr. Rafter continued, “The commitment from these three men is further demonstration that the CAYFA is embraced by accomplished leaders from the medical and football community and that the future of youth tackle football in California is bright. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves with them to advance our work."


The purpose of the CAYFA is to advance youth tackle football by honoring our past, improving our present, and advancing our future so that more generations of student-athletes, coaches, and communities can experience the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical developmental benefits of the sport. For more information, please visit www.cayfa.org.

Press inquiries can be made to info@cayfa.org

My Journey of Walking the Sidelines

As we, the California Youth Football Alliance, embark on our mission to make youth tackle football the safest sport in California, we are humbled by our experiences to date. Over the course of the last two decades in youth football, I have learned many things, some of which I want to share here today, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


To start, the youth football community of California is strong, honorable, passionate, and loving of their children first, and the sport second. Around this time last year, the bill to ban youth tackle football was published in California. Within months it was also alive in 4 other states: Illinois, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey. I had been walking the sidelines of youth tackle football fields on the East Coast, and the West Coast for 10+ years by the time I was confronted by the bill in California. The bill’s intention, the ensuing messages, and the media rhetoric was not consistent with the experiences I have been blessed to have across our country. I have seen you, the youth tackle football community, volunteer countless hours of time to support young men and women, in their pursuit of success on the football fields. I have seen coaches teaching our youth the very best techniques in youth tackle football. I have seen these same grown men and women, embrace each other with competition as well as compassion, not just shaking hands but hugging each other after a game regardless of the outcome. I have seen parents share the blessing of their child with football coaches, allowing them to play a sport because it is in the child’s heart to play. I have seen parents smile with great pride as their child makes a play and achieves a new athletic experience. I have spoken with these same parents who tell me how their child is fundamentally more mature, disciplined, and focused at home and in school, as a result of playing youth football. In every discussion, the focus is on the children and their experience. I share these observations in honor of the question that Dr. Martin Luther King posed to an audience in Montgomery, Alabama in 1957, “What are you doing for others?” I see administrators, coaches, parents, players, and communities rally around our youth football players creating ripples of growth and planting seeds of character that will continue to impact our world as these children grow up to join the millions of former youth football players who are making an impact in their communities today.

In addition to coaching football, I have coached basketball and baseball while watching my sons compete in lacrosse, rugby, and horse jumping. With these experiences, I can confidently say youth football is improving at a pace that exceeds all other youth sports with respect to equipment, technology, coaching, rule changes and oversight. For decades, the global football community has been investing in advancements of the sport. I have seen new helmet technology made available to improve the safety of our youth. I have seen sideline technology implemented that allows youth football administrators and coaches to monitor the quality of practice and games. I have participated in coaching clinics and certifications that have made me a better parent of my own children by learning the power of positive coaching and becoming certified in first aid, as examples. I have seen the elimination of kick offs at the youngest of youth levels as well as new rules at the high school, college, and professional level designed to remove the head from play. I have enforced these new standards as a President of a youth football organization. Finally, as a result of these experiences, I can tell you that the game of youth football is not the game that I, nor you, played growing up. The developments of the sport are cascading down from the NFL, and in many cases the newest safety standards are being developed and implemented in the youth game. With all this said, while we are headed in the right direction, I still see opportunity to accelerate our progress. More can and will be done to make equipment, technology, coaching, rule changes, and oversight more efficient and effective so that the best is made available to every corner of the state of California. On behalf of the California Youth Football Alliance, you have our promise to make this happen.

While I am proud of our past, and excited about our future, there are many others who don’t share the experiences outlined above. In fact these others, our youth football opposition, act in ways that denigrate, vilify, and weaponize our sport and our community. I read twitter posts, news articles, and editorials on a daily basis that use language that inspires fear, loss, and even hatred. I don’t care what your political affiliation is, but we, the California Youth Football Alliance, are committed to making our sport the safest in California by enhancing our safety standards, creating effective solutions to implement these standards, seeking the truth from the medical community, and advancing our children’s and our sport’s future. We commit to pursue these outcomes with equal to or greater passion than a 4th and inches on the goal line with 3 seconds left on the clock. We are calling our youth football community together in a manner that has never been achieved before today. We must not fall victim to the language of our opposition. I say this as I call upon the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We, the California Youth Football Community, must continue to focus on the love that we have for our children first, our sport second, and our future third.

In closing, I want to share one more insight into my experiences as a youth football parent, administrator, and coach. I share this with my hand on my heart, that in my experience, no youth sport brings together people from all walks of life like football. In fact, football might be the most perfect sport to embody the work of love, diversity, acceptance, and civil rights of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I look forward to seeing many more of you in the future, as my personal journey of walking the sidelines continues in this great state of California.