Flag Football Tournament Promotes Non Violence In Vietnamese And Asian Communities

The national anthem signals it's time for kickoff. But a second national anthem signals there's something different about this first of it's kind flag football tournament.

This is the Noodle Bowl 2008, an event dreamed up by a group of young Vietnamese and Asian professionals.

"There will be no violence tolerated here," announces tournament executive director Joanne Tran.

And that, says Tran, is the most important message of the Noodle Bowl.

"We're tired of the violence here," says Tran. "We tired of the gang related activity. And everyone complains about it, but they don't do anything about it. So there's maybe a group of about 10 of us who say you know what we're tired of it. We need to do something. And the first thing we thought about was why don't we start with the youth."

Leanne Drapeza is one of the groups professionals, concerned about the rising tide of violence, like drive by shootings, that plague the Gulf Coasts' Asian community.

"And we feel that events such as this will kind of minimize those things because they will feel like they're a part of something," says Drapeza. "And they are making a difference."

They also hope this and other activities their community organization plans to sponsor will bring the Asian community closer together.

"We're going to try and have a culture talent show," says Tran. "We're thinking about having a tennis tournament and a field day for the kids when they get out of school."

A winning game plan they believe will be successful on and off the field of play.

Saturday's field of 12 teams included one from New Orleans, which is part of a similar community organization there, called the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans.