Although Pop Warner is the largest youth football organization in the country, there are many areas without a local program. If you live in one of these areas and know of any families who would like to sign their kids up, you might be able to start a team.
Pop Warner has established eight national regions. Leagues within these regions can be divided into associations. Within an association, there are teams in different age/weight divisions. For example, working backwards, the Westside Bears are a Mighty Mite team (ages 7 to 9, 45 to 90 pounds) in the Beeville Association, which is part of the South Texas Conference in the Southwest national region.
You can search for your local Pop Warner program on the organization's Web site, PopWarner.com. If you contact the national office directly, it'll put you in contact with the right person at your local league. Personnel will guide you through the organization's process for how to petition to start another association in the existing league.
However, you may find that there isn't a league in your area. As of this writing, for instance, there are no Pop Warner programs in Georgia or Kentucky. It's not impossible to start a league, but it does involve more work. After determining that there's enough interest, players and volunteers, you'll have to complete a charter application.
The process includes creating a board of directors for the league as well as boards for each association. You'll have to draw up by-laws and determine boundaries for your league and individual associations. You'll also want to meet with community officials to determine fields you can use.
The Pop Warner organization also suggests incorporating your league as a nonprofit with your state and getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Several fees to consider will include referee, insurance, field, equipment and administrative fees. But many businesses might be willing to donate to the cause to help with funds.
Among other matters, you'll have to make sure your coaches are trained in a Pop Warner clinic and that volunteers have had background checks. To get a checklist of many other details -- like setting a registration refund policy -- you can ask the Pop Warner national office.
Although it's a lot of work, giving kids an opportunity to play football in an safe, inviting environment can be immeasurably rewarding.