The Pioneer Award

This year’s Pioneer Award winner belongs to the exalted members of the reunion committee of the Atlanta Amateur Football League (AAFA). The AAFL is comprised of nearly a dozen local football clubs, organized in some of Atlanta’s most popular urban communities, and was the first of its type ever created in the United States. Its roots go back to the mid-summer of 1967, when the Atlanta Junior Chamber of Commerce, Economic Opportunity Atlanta (EOA) and local neighborhood organizations developed an idea to provide wholesome activities for young men living in various communities in the area. Communities include, but are not limited to, Perry Homes, Vine City, Fourth Ward, Kirkwood, Summerhill, and Pittsburgh. The desire was to provide young men with positive resources in order to stem civil disorder, which occurred the summer prior in several of the neighborhoods previously mentioned. This desire transitioned into a plan of activities, consisting of a four week schedule, which began the first Sunday in October of 1967. The first AAFL champion team was the Kirkwood Rams, who defeated the Summerhill Falcons during a game played at the former WO Cheney Stadium. The league continued its efforts, and from it sprouted two NFL players. The first, a former Howard High School and Fourth Ward, Domino Arthur Green (New Orleans and Ottawa of the CFL) and the other, Herbert Mulkey, who played with the Vine City Packers prior to becoming a team member of the Washington Redskins in 1973.

In 2005, and at the suggestion of a former player, a reunion picnic was held in Washington Park on the northwest side of Atlanta. From that gathering, the idea of a permanent organization took route. They resolved that their principal mission would be to support the nine cities of Atlanta High School grid programs, since all the former players and coaches were educated and athletes in the APS. They have awarded offensive and defensive players of the year trophies to the schools, with the coaches deciding the recipients. They also award a $500 scholarship to a player heading to college, who has demonstrated the need and displays attributes of both scholarly and athletic ability. AAFL’s future plans include the resumption of an All-City football team. One of their most dedicated members, the late Freddie Robinson, willed the organization enough funds to now award three scholarships to deserving APS football players.

Their motto is “Still in the game”. Though their membership is too old to play, they are not too old to support and act as mentors to young men who are traveling along the same road many of them have already taken.