NYCHAThe National Football League (NFL) and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have partnered for the third consecutive year to host the NFL Officiating Academy. This program aims to teach valuable life skills, and provide participants with potential opportunities for careers in sports officiating in a seven-week academy.

According to the NFL’s website, both men and women between the ages of 17-30 can participate. The benefit of joining this academy is great. You get a chance to learn from some of the best trainers, who are current NFL officials while improving in other areas.

“This academy lays the groundwork for younger officials and lets them know the basics of officiating,” said NFL executive Terrell Canton in a NYCHA news article. “The ideal starting age for an official is 25, so these kids will have a major head start.”

Participants can enhance or develop life skills to improve employment opportunities. The academy introduces basic skill development by classroom instruction and on-field drills between 4–5 hours of weekly training, which consisting of video instruction, rule books, study guides, etc. Participants are also given instructions of specific movements and mechanics.

This is a “steppingstone for other things in life,” Wayne S. Mackie, an N.F.L. head linesman who grew up in Brooklyn’s Linden Houses, told the recruits at the pilot program in 2010.

In addition, they will learn proper positioning during scrimmage kick and goal line plays. The course demands mandatory participation in character-development sessions focused on communication, decisiveness, and conflict resolution and time management. Upon completion participants will receive a full football officiating uniform.

Each year there are two programs being held. During the pilot program in 2010, the academy was located in Manhattan and Pennsylvania. In 2011 the academies were held in South Jamaica Queens and at army and navy academies. This year they will be located in Brooklyn and Liverpool, Ohio. According to a NYCHA representative, this year the Academy will meet every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. beginning July 11 until August 22 at the Brooklyn Central Offices (787 Atlantic Avenue). And an on-field training will take place at the Brooklyn Technical High School football field located directly behind their facility. Applications are to be completed and returned no later than June 8.

In a 2010 article of the New York Times, Tayvone Maxwell, 19, who hopes to officiate the Super Bowl one day, said “it’s been hard” living in the projects. He believes people like him are overlooked for jobs and educational opportunities because of where they live. “There’s a lot of gifted kids that you don’t see,” he said.

Last year NYCHA Chairman, John B. Rhea, spoke about his own experience with football as a kid. “I love football and it’s special to me. It taught me discipline and motivated me to go on to college and do other things.”

Rhea continued, “I want [everyone who participates] to become better men and women based on the things they learned from the program.”

The graduates of the previous Officiating Academies are now qualified to officiate youth football leagues and NFL flag football games. The NFL employs 119 officials every year as a seasonal job from July through January.

Read more at NYCHA News.