Changes are on the way for the Forsyth County Youth Football Association.
The athletic organization operates independently from the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department, but falls under its rules because the association leases the field space.
The county will be a little more involved moving forward.
With longtime league commissioner Phil Bourque stepping down after this season, the time is right to reorganize the association’s executive board, said Wayne Maddox, manager of the parks department’s athletic division.
“Phil has suggested that we, FCPRD and the recreation board, take a little bit more of a leadership role on a temporary basis,” Maddox told the parks board Tuesday. “He suggested that we as a group appoint somebody to be that commissioner, for maybe a 2-year period, to get all of this done, as far as reorganizing it.”
The local parks board then voted 5-0 to appoint Maddox as commissioner for the next two seasons.
“This is kind of a unique situation in that the county doesn’t typically go to the youth booster clubs and insert [itself] to take this level of an action,” Maddox said, “but I think the situation with football is unique and warrants it.”
He said the executive board needs more voting positions, the commissioner needs more authority and some of the league’s bylaws and rules need to be addressed.
Maddox, who is the liaison between the county department and the association, has been in the loop on the association’s operations for a few years.
He wasn’t volunteering to step into the role, but said: “If that’s the direction it needs to go in, I will do whatever I have to do.”
As a salaried employee already involved, the expanded role isn’t expected to increase county costs, said Jerry Kinsey, parks and recreation director.
Board member Daniel Slott said naming Maddox to the position would provide the leadership needed for the transition, adding that the association has some issues.
“It needs to be cleaned up,” Slott said. “The citizens of the county look at this as a county program, they don’t know any different. So because it’s not only reflecting poorly on the county, we need to step in.”
Since the county leases the field space to the association, he said Forsyth has “a responsibility to make sure that we have a level playing field in the parks for the kids’ safety.”
Bourque was unable to attend the meeting Tuesday, but said Wednesday that moving Maddox into the position was “the best option” for the county and the organization.
Bourque has been involved with the youth football association since he started volunteering with the Cumming Falcons in 1992.
He stepped up to the commissioner role in 2005, but said he can no longer continue to balance the demands of the league and his full-time job.
“My kids are grown and out of the program,” he said. “It’s time for somebody else to step up.”
The association began with about four teams at each of the four parks, but some parks now boast as many as 80 teams, Bourque said.
Some of the rules created with the league’s inception still exist, he said, and the executive board has just four voting members, which include the president from each park.
“It’s not that it’s been a problem in the past, but these guys are presidents and they’re coaches,” Bourque said. “I have to sit there and wonder are these guys thinking with their president’s hat on and thinking of all 400 kids at their park, or are they thinking how is it going to affect me as a coach and is it going to impact the performance of my team.”
His ideas for reorganizing include a board with oversight at each park and for the full league, which would ideally be composed of members without a child involved.
The involvement of a county employee will give Forsyth the ability to address some of the concerns, since it has authority similar to a landlord over a tenant, Bourque said.
“They need to make some changes,” he said. “It’s been a great program and it’s run very well. Everybody has issues you have to deal with throughout the year.
“Each year, we’ll correct issues, but it’s been a long time since we have taken an overall look at the complete rulebook.”