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Matthews Athletic & Recreation Association

Matthews Athletic & Recreation Association

a banner showing a MARA Colts Football Player and and footballs

Welcome to the Home of the Colts 

The MARA Colts Football Logo


Frequently Asked Questions & Answers:
  1. What does my registration fee cover?
  2. Why do we need the Physical/Medical History form?
  3. Do teams need to provide any medical personnel during practices?
  4. Does Pop Warner REALLY look at these forms?
  5. Why is Pop Warner so strict?
  6. Why Does Pop Warner require background checks for anyone coming into regular contact with players?
  7. Why do I have to give a $175.00 equipment deposit check to MARA to get my equipment?
  8. Equipment Distribution
  9. Why do I have to provide my child’s report card?
  10. My son’s helmet is hurting, what can I do?
  11. Where will our games be held?
  12. When is the first game and when will we see a game schedule?
  13. How do I find out about practices and games in inclement weather?
  14. Is there a designated smoking area?
  15. Can I bring my dog or pet to games?
  16. What are the plans for season-ending parties?
  17. Is Pop Warner too rough for my child?
  18. When does the season begin and end?
  19. How much time is involved?
  20. What time do teams practice?
  21. Are the coaches paid employees of Matthews Athletic and Recreation Association (MARA)?
  22. Do we have to buy all the equipment?
  23. What equipment do I need to buy?
  24. How much will my child play?
  25. Why do football coaches yell so much?
  26. Can we vacation once practice starts in August?
  27. Game Schedules
  28. Middle School Football and MARA
  29. Are you ready? Register Now
We THANK YOU for your participation in the MARA Colts Football Program. We hope that you and your children will have a positive, safe, and fun experience with us. Please tell us how we are doing and how you feel we can makes things better.
  • Pop Warner Little Panthers League Fees
  • Security Fees (Security personnel present at every game)
  • Officials (referees) Fee - NCHSAA Certified
  • Medic Fees (certified medics present at every game)
  • Insurance (thru MARA) for your child
  • Field Maintenance and Lights (practice fields & game fields)
  • Uniforms (players keep their game jersey)
  • Equipment (plus wear & tear and replacement)
  • MARA Membership
  • Miscellaneous – MARA is approximately a 25 acre park maintained fully by your membership dollars and donations; MARA is not funded by any municipality, therefore every dollar goes towards the park.


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  • The Physical/Medical History Form is a “detailed” medical form with information about allergies, asthma, and medical issues.  This form will be carried in a binder by your child’s coach to each practice and game. This way, if there is a medical emergency, the trained medics will have immediate access to the child’s medical history and also have immediate information so they can contact the pediatrician if necessary.



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  • Pop Warner requires someone with CPR certification to be at the field (not necessarily on the same team) for practices in the event of an emergency. With 3-4 teams practicing at the same time, we are fulfilling the requirement.  In addition some coaches are CPR certified.
  • For all games, a medic will be at the field at all times (part of your registration fee).



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  • YES. Pop Warner requires all of these forms to be stapled together in a certain order in a certain folder…and then brought to them for review. They will review each player’s file – if a birth certificate, report card or medical form is not legible, they will require our Player Certification team to provide new legible copies. Once all players are reviewed and approved, a team is then certified and allowed to compete for the season. Pop Warner will not accept partial files, so anyone without a complete file has until a particular date (set by Pop Warner) to comply or the player will not be allowed to participate that season.
  • Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. (PWLS) is a non-profit organization that provides youth football and cheer/dance programs for participants in 43 states and several countries around the world. Consisting of approximately 360, 000 young people ranging from ages 5 to 16 years old, PWLS is the largest youth football, cheer/dance program in the United States.
  • The mission of PWLS is to enable children to benefit from participation in team sports and activities in a safe and structured environment. Through this active participation, Pop Warner programs teach fundamental values, skills and knowledge that children will use throughout their lives.
  • Pop Warner was founded in 1929 and continues to grow and serve as the only youth football, cheerleading/dance organization that requires its participants to maintain academic standards in order to participate. Pop Warner’s commitment to academics is what separates the program from other youth sports.
  • As the only national youth sports organization that requires scholastic aptitude to participate, Pop Warner is committed to developing America’s young people on the field and off. Each year Pop Warner continues to expand its efforts in team and activity participation, as well as visibility and outreach in the community.
  • Every coach, assistant, coordinator, football committee member and team parent is required to submit to a background check. Pop Warner requires the checks to ensure the safety of your child – we want to know who is having regular contact (defined as assisting with 2 or more practices, games or functions) with the players. Pop Warner and MARA want you to know that we have done everything in our power to ensure the safety of your children and their siblings when they participate in Pop Warner activities.
  • Football equipment and game pants are very expensive. It’s important that all of our equipment, including game pants, are returned in good shape (normal wear and tear is okay, abuse is not okay) at the end of the season.
  • We require from every player’s family a $175.00 check, that will be held, not cashed, until the end of the season. This check is held in good faith to ensure that the player will return his equipment (helmet & shoulder pads) and game pants at the designated date and time at the end of the season. Should a player not return any part of or all of his equipment,  the check will then be cashed to help offset the cost of purchasing replacement equipment for next year.
  • Players must be present to be fitted for equipment. We cannot issue equipment to a parent without a player present.
  • Our inventory system uses barcodes which means we track the equipment as it is checked in and out. Parents need to bring a deposit check for $175 made out to MARA to secure their equipment. If equipment is not returned at the end of the season, a charge will be placed on the family account and the deposit check cashed - you will be unable to register for future programs until the charge is cleared. Parents will sign for receipt of equipment, so please come in person with your player.
  • If you choose to purchase a helmet or shoulder pads rather than using those issued by MARA, you will be asked to sign a liability waiver.
  • As a reminder, we provide a game jersey, helmet with chin strap, shoulder pads, one pair of socks and one pair of pants with integrated pads. The pants can be used for both games and practices and will be returned at the end of the season along with the helmet, chin strap and shoulder pads. Your player will keep the game jersey and socks.
  • You will need to purchase cleats and a mouth guard. Families often choose to purchase an upgraded chin strap for the helmet.
  • Pop Warner is actually called “Pop Warner Little Scholars” (PWLS). They require a child to have a 70.0% or 2.0 GPA in order to participate in their football program. Pop Warner wants to stress how important it is to be a good scholar in school. The report cards are proof to Pop Warner that your child is performing at school.
  • Pop Warner recognizes “Little Scholars” nationally; all players with a 96% average are eligible to be selected for the Little Scholars program.


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  • Football helmets are uncomfortable and may take a while to break in. Helmets need to fit tightly to prevent the player from being hurt. DO NOT ALTER THE FOAM OR INTERIOR OF THE HELMET IN ANY WAY this will harm the integrity of the helmet and could put your child at risk of being injured, it can also be cause for suspension from a game for not having the proper protection.
  • If you have questions or concerns about any equipment see your coach or the MARA Athletic Director.
  • Our games will be located at different fields. Our home field is located at MARA; it is the upper field to the left of the parking lot.



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  • Since Pop Warner requires such a lengthy certification process, team certification is not completed until the end of August. Once the certification is complete, then the game scheduler goes to work on getting the schedule written. Pop Warner schedules all games. MARA does not control the scheduling.
  • The first game is normally the first Saturday after Labor Day – when and where to be announced – we expect schedule the first week in September. We will provide this information to your coaches as soon as we have it. The first schedule released may only have the first game or two; the remaining schedule will be released sometime in September.
  • MARA will use their web site plus the coaches to communicate any cancellations. If nothing is posted, plan to be on time unless you hear from a coach.  If storms develop late decisions will be made at the fields.
  • No, MARA does not allow smoking at any part of the park – MARA is private property and follows Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s School policy – no smoking, no alcohol, and no tobacco products, no drugs and no firearms are allowed on our property at any time (on duty Law Enforcement officials excluded re: firearms).
  • No, MARA does not allow pets. This is due to insurance issues in the event your pet would bite or hurt another child. Keep in mind, MARA is not a public park although we are often mistaken for one.
  • End-of-season banquets for all of MARA will be held in mid November. Watch for details mid-season.


Is Pop Warner too rough for my child?

  • Only you and your child can answer this one. Please keep in mind....this is tackle football. It is not a sport for every child. Please discuss this with your child and any of our Football Committee members prior to registering if you have specific concerns.


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When does the season begin and end?

  • The season starts the first week of August and with post season play, it is possible to carry into November and beyond.


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How much time is involved?

  • Pop Warner Football is a BIG time commitment on the part of both players and parents. It will be much different than recreational sports (soccer, basketball, baseball). The first 2 weeks of the season are considered "conditioning" weeks. Before school begins, players will practice four nights a week for up to 2.5 hours per night. Once school is in session, this will be scaled back to three night per week.


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What time do teams practice?

Practices are up to 2 1/2 hours long - typically 2 hours - and commonly run anywhere from 6:00pm to 8:45pm with some variance depending on the coach’s schedule. Note: Temperatures are quite high during the beginning of the football season. It is imperative that your child drink plenty of water during the football season. This includes the night before practice and during the day before practice. We cannot stress this enough. DRINK WATER and bring plenty of water to practice!!!


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NO. They are volunteers who donate their time to help our kids. This entire program, in fact, is run by volunteers who put in a great deal of personal time to make this program available to your children. Please keep this in mind…our staff has the same professional and personal responsibilities as you with the added responsibility that comes along with volunteering. If you are interested in committing some time to the program, please contact the football committee via [email protected]


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 Do we have to buy all the equipment?

NO. MARA provides helmets, shoulder pads, jersey and game pants. All this equipment must be returned at the end of each season.


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What equipment do I need to buy?

Players will need a pair of football cleats, a cup and athletic supporter, practice pants (integrated pads), practice jersey, and game socks. Chin straps will be provided but our stock is limited to those that come with the helmets and these are often not as comfortable as others on the market.  We also recommend that each player purchase a football girdle (integrated pads) that can be worn under practice/game pants. This makes the process of donning your uniform easier, especially for young/new players and it provides additional pad protection.


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How much will my child play?

All team members will play. Coaches will determine what positions each child is best suited for and as a result some will play more plays than others. Every division has a minimum number of plays that each child must play. This is frequently referenced as "the MPR rule". (MPR = Minimum Play Rule). Like any sport, the more the player puts in, the more they will get out.


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Why do football coaches yell so much?

Imagine if you invited 25 boys over to your home, put pads and helmets on them and told them to hit each other as hard as they can, knock each other down and then do it again, and again... and again, what would happen? This is a contact sport and coaches are responsible for teaching the kids not only how to play football, but how to do it properly so no one gets hurt. This requires a lot of cooperation, teamwork and respect for each other and to this end; coaches will make sure they are heard.


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Can we vacation once practice starts in August?

Yes, but they will be at a disadvantage.  Much of the Offense and Defense is taught in the first two weeks.  The first two weeks are Pop Warner mandatory conditioning sessions and required before a player can practice with full equipment. When players miss practice it can affect the whole team. Also Pop Warner rules do not allow players to participate in games if they do not meet the minimum number of required practice hours. The short answer is "yes" but there are consequences to missed practice time that should be discussed with your coach prior to your departure. Don't let it be a surprise that your child misses a game if s/he can't get in the required number of practices beforehand.   ALL THAT SAID, this happens often, and players recover as the season goes on.  We would rather have them play then not play, so this is something that can be worked through, but we want to set expectations that it can set them behind a bit and could impact playing time in the early part of the season.


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Game Schedules

All scheduling is done by the Executive Board of the Pop Warners Little Panthers, MARA plays against any of 14 other associations in the league.

After the first several games, the Executive Board will take measure of each team’s record and then schedule the next games against teams with similar records. While this does not guarantee each team will get a victory, it is an effort to get more evenly matched and competitive games. Teams that are very successful after the first six games will advance into the playoffs and have the opportunity to play in the Optimist Bowl.  Those teams not advancing to the playoffs, and any losing a playoff game, will continue to be matched with teams with similar records. If a team wins the Optimist Bowl, it will have the right to represent Charlotte in the Pop Warner Regional playoffs and could eventually advance to the Championships in Disney World.

It is important to note that the game schedule for the match-up games is only published one week at a time since the Executive Board is not able to forecast the W-L records of teams.

All teams plan to have nine games, with the regular season ending on October 27th. There is a chance that your child’s team might have a BYE once during the course of the season due to an odd number of teams and only have eight games.


Middle School Football and MARA

Players cannot play on both their middle school team and a Pop Warner Team at the same time.  However, if a player leaves the middle school team for any reason, they are eligible to rejoin their Pop Warner team as long as they were registered with the Pop Warner team before the registration end date.

The Pop Warner season starts before and ends after the middle school football season.  Most seventh (7th) graders do no not make their middle school team.  The middle school "must play" rule is one (1) play per game.  A typical "must play" rule on a Pop Warner team is eight (8) plays, which does not include special teams, or plays that result in a penalty.  Middle School Football has a running clock and does not play in games after dusk (most middle schools do not have field lights).

Pop Warner players have a chance to play in a National Championship Game in Florida at Disney World in November

A player may register with the MARA Colts and practice in August and if they make their middle school team in September leave the MARA Colts and then return when they leave their middle school team.

We THANK YOU for your participation in the MARA Colts Football Program. We hope that you and your children will have a positive, safe, and fun experience with us. Please tell us how we are doing and how you feel we can makes things better.

Join The Stampede!



Matthews Athletic & Recreation Association
Kathy Duncan MARA Administrator, PO Box 1023
Matthews, North Carolina 28106

Phone: 704-847-0752
Email: [email protected]

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