My son Jorge Luis Avila has been playing football since he was 8 years old.
He began playing at Parque Omar with AFAIN where he was selected to represent Panama on each of its All Star teams during the time of his participation which competed against US teams. He travelled to Tampa, Denver and Atlanta where he made significant contributions. More importantly, unknowingly at the time, he was also preparing himself for what was ahead.
After three years with AFAIN, my son joined the Fighting Owls in the newly formed “Mini” category of Kiwanis KFL league for boys 10-12 years old. Having to manage his time between school and football was a real challenge for a boy of his age. But, the discipline that he learned is something that will always stay with him and make a positive difference in his life.
Now, at 15, looking back at his hard work, achievements and lessons learned, I can only say that I am very proud of my son not only because of his talent on the football field, but also because of the outstanding human being that he has become.
Jorge Luis is now in 10th grade, playing his last year on the Fighting Owls sub-15 team (Juvenil). He is 6 feet tall and weighs 150 pounds, and is more excited than ever. He had an outstanding season last year helping the team win its 11th championship and beating the odds.
He plans on playing Varsity in the KFL league and dreams of playing college football. He is aware of the sacrifices he will have to make to achieve this long time passion.
I can only thank God for my amazing boy. He loves his family, friends, life and God and I pray he remains focused on the important things in life.
“Big players make big plays in big games” is a widely spoken mantra among football coaches everywhere. But when these accounts are also complimented by photojournalism, the result can often transform a routine event into a most telling and memorable moment.
This is the case for Lucas Ardito Barletta of the AIP Fighting Owls who made a catch late in the second quarter of last year’s championship matchup against the Brader Raiders which was captured by photographer Joniel Omaña of Teen Sports and printed on the front page of that magazine the following day.
“It definitely feels great to be publicly recognized”, commented Ardito Barletta during an interview with American Football Films. “I think there couldn't have been a better moment for that play to happen because at the moment we were losing and not feeling great about ourselves. That play gave us kind of a spark, and great positioning to score and put ourselves ahead for the first time in the game.
The catch occurred at 4:27 remaining in the second period which advanced the ball deep into Raider territory to about the 10 yard line. The Owls were behind by two points with the score 8 to 6. After the catch, Ramon Maduro scored on a short run a few plays later giving the Owls its first lead of the game. The Fighting Owls went on to win that game 22 to 16 to secure its eleventh straight championship.
“This catch will stand out more than most others in my memory, mostly because of the moment in which it happened and because of how big and important winning that game was for us”, said Ardio Barletta. “Being a part of the Fighting Owls is one of the best things there is, and winning the championship is something you will remember for the rest of your life”.
Just a few days after the championship, seemingly with little or no time to even wash uniforms between seasons, Ardito Barletta and teammate Ramon Maduro were on the field again with the Fighting Owls for the opening ceremony of the 2012 varsity season in which they both participated.
“My goal is always to set a positive example for my teammates”, Ardito Barletta said. “ To continue to build a new dynasty in the varsity league, and play an important role in leading the team to the championship.”
Ardito Barletta was 15 years old during the 2012 sub-15 Kiwanis Football League (KFL) season in which he averaged 5.9 yards per carry, made 28 tackles, had 4 interceptions, and made 6 kickoff returns for 213 yards for an average of 36 yards per return. He finished the season with a total of 3 TDs. He will play his second Varsity season this August.