Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Youth i9 Sports Program Kicks off Sunday in Hilo

Flag football with i9 Sports

   Youth sports have always played an important role in our community by teaching a variety of life skills and sportsmanship. Now, with the addition of the new i9 Sports league, Hilo youth will be provided with another alternative in learning how the game is played.

   “Some parents and coaches are banning together to reverse the traditional role of winning in sports and instead have created a league where the goal is placed on teaching youngsters good sportsmanship while having fun,” i9 Big Island Program Director Diego Roig said.

   The i9 Sports program will kick off this weekend with flag football and later in the year Roig is looking at starting up a basketball program.

   “The i9 philosophy helped me better understand the role of a coach and ways of bringing out the best in each child, especially the non-scores with placing any real importance on winning,” Roig said.

   Roig became involved with youth sports programs when his son, Jonathan, started to play at age three.  Since that time Roig has gone full circle in learning a variety of ways in developing character associated with playing sports.

   “I’ve always wanted to spend time with my son in a sports setting,” Roig said.  “I’m not much of a talker and I thought I could best communicate parent to child through sports.”

   The i9 Sports philosophy is based on nine principles all of which begin with the letter “I”.  Imaginative, innovative, interactive, integrity-driven, impassioned, inspirational, instructional, insightful and inclusive, but the core idea is to teach the youngsters to have fun while learning the fundamentals of the game.

“I became a head coach for an i9 team and was given some simple drills and plays which formed the foundation of the basic skills the players learned,” Roig said. “But more importantly I was handed several tools that helped me see in each child their individual contributions to the game.  With the focus on good sportsmanship, teamwork, and fair play, we took the focus off winning and put it on developing character, which is the other half of the equation.”

   I9 Sports made its first appearance in Tampa, Florida in 1993 and slowly made its way across the country until it reached Honolulu in 2007 and the Big Island in 2010.

   While many mainland areas have put in place seven different sports during the year Hawaii will limit its i9 Sports programs to flag football and basketball.

   “In some sports programs winning is more important to parents, coaches and other adults,” Roig said.  “Here at i9 the emphasis is placed on the kids having fun.”

   Roig became a believer in the i9 way of approaching the playing field as he introduced a Sportsmanship Trait at each of his team’s practice sessions.

   “I’d go over stuff like being a good listener, team player, team leader and courtesy after each game.  I would then select a player who exhibited the trait of the week and award the child and make a presentation with their parents present,” Roig said.

  Through the i9 concept children are rewarded in a variety of ways which emphases their individual contribution to the team.

   “I walked away a better person after being head coach my first season,” Roig said.  “Not because we had a winning record, we didn’t, but because we were able to focus on character building skills over the usual focus on winning.”

   It was that first season as a head coach that Roig decided that he wanted to bring the i9 Sports philosophy to the parents, coaches and children of the Big Island.

   On Sunday Roig will begin the i9 Sports spring league with flag football for the 77 Hilo children that are registered in the three age divisions, 5-6, 7-9, and 10-13.

   “We have a total of 10 teams and we’ll kick-off our inaugural game at the Hilo High School Oval Track on March 21,” Roig said.

   The nine week season costs $135. but according to Roig discounts were given to those that registered early and for those with more than one child participating.

   “Many parents have said that they registered their children in the league because it is all about having pure fun and not like other youth programs which have a highly competitive atmosphere,” Roig said.

   Parents such as Patrick Roach agree, “I9 Sports is such a refreshing youth sports league as it has done a great job of removing itself from an over-pressured culture,” he said.  “This sports league requires parents to sign a waiver form stating that they will not be aggressive with coaches, referees or players.  All children get equal playing time, and a good sportsmanship award is given each week.”

   For more information on i9 Sports programs go to http://i9sportshawaii.blogspot.com or call Roig at 557-3193.

March 16, 2010 Posted by | Events | , , | 1 Comment