MORGANTOWN — The Mountain State Youth Football League (MSYFL) was conceived and founded with a commitment to providing local children a safe, encouraging environment in which to learn the sport. Nearly 4 years later, that mission hasn’t changed.

The MSYFL is a Morgantown-based, five-team league, featuring the Brookhaven Falcons, Cheat Lake Chargers, Evansdale Tigers, Marilla Mustangs and Westover Rockets, with plans on adding a sixth team in Blacksville as soon as participation numbers allow. Between football and the league’s cheer/dance programs, MSYFL services more than 400 students in elementary and middle school in Morgantown and Matthews expressed interest in expanding into Marion and Preston County, as well as Pennsylvania.

“We really like to get the whole youth community involved,” said MSYFL president James Matthews. “Football is broken down to two groups per team: An ‘A’ team, which is grades 5 and 6, and a ‘B’ team, which has kids in grades 3 and 4. The cheerleading program is open to kids starting in preschool up to age 12. We want everyone to be able to participate.”

Matthews founded the organization, along with Rich Maxwell and Chris Anderson, in 2012, when the league absorbed the now-defunct Morgantown Youth Football league. While the teams stayed mostly intact, Matthews said, MSYFL overhauled the league’s entire equipment inventory with an eye on providing state-of-the-art gear for their players.

“I played in the youth league prior to [MSYFL],” Matthews said. “They were here for 50 years and provided a place for the kids to play, but the equipment was so outdated that I wouldn’t allow my kid to put the helmet on. It was so old that some of the equipment I used 20 years ago was still on hand. That’s what really caused us to buy new equipment and start [MSYFL].”

It wasn’t a minor investment. Matthews said the league sunk nearly $80,000 into purchasing new equipment and said MSYFL will spend another “$12,000 to $20,000” this year to recondition their helmets in order to keep them certified.

MSYFL will host a registration event at Dick’s Sporting Goods at University Town Centre on July 18-19, from noon until 4 p.m. each day. According to Matthews, Dick’s will provide activities for children and give everyone that signs up a 20 percent off coupon on store purchases.

Matthews said registration for the football league, which plays a 10-game season, is $125. The registration fee includes uniforms, pads, helmets and mouthpieces.

“The only thing we don’t supply is sneakers,” Matthews said.