5 on 5 Tournament Rules

MFL 5-on-5 Tournament Rules (Last Updated July 3, 2023)


Players must be 18 years old or have a signed consent from a parent or legal guardian (age 15 and up). All teams must consist of athletes from one physical Malayalee church. All players must have their name, home address, telephone, have read and signed the roster/waiver form before they can participate. All players on the roster must sign the waiver before they play in a game. Players must have identification with them at the time of registration. 

Church Partner Rule: MFL teams, for summer and winter tournaments, must be composed of players from the same physical Malayalee church. In an effort to help smaller churches field a team, churches can request to partner with other churches by following this preset church partner list. Special considerations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the MFL board. All partner requests will be pending board approval.

Church Partner List:

  1. Chicago Syro-Malabar and Chicago Syro-Malankara churches
  2. Chicago Pentecostal churches
  3. Chicago KNA churches
  4. Chicago Orthodox churches
  5. Chicago Mar Thoma churches
  6. Chicago CSI churches
  7. Detroit Mar Thoma churches


Team roster limits are 10 per roster for Men Events and unlimited roster size for Women Events (existing “Grandmothered” teams from the first Women’s MFL Tournament have 12 per roster limits). 

Final rosters are due with payment to be considered fully submitted. 

PRAIRIE FIRE RULE: In order to maintain fairness in a recreational tournament, intercollegiate athletes from any level (Division I, II, III, etc.) or sport (football, basketball, baseball, etc.) will be ineligible to play in this tournament (intramural players are excluded and are eligible to play).



A ref or any board member can request a player to go through concussion screening via medical personnel appointed by the board. MFL board will have final say on outcome and procedure. 



The offensive team may provide their own ball, which must be an official size football; Women’s football – size 4/junior size (10.5” length and 21” circumference) and Men’s football – size 5/official size (11” length and 22” circumference). 

Each team must have the same color shirt, numbers on shirts are optional. 

No metal Spikes. The playing field is 190’ x 85’ (63 yds x 27 yds)

Games may be played on the indoor athletic fields. The field is striped for sidelines and the end zones will be marked by cones and lines. First down marker is midfield. Out of bounds is represented by a solid border line.



Player’s must respect the official, Village Officials, other players, and spectators. Any player ejected from a game or displays unsportsmanlike conduct may result in a game forfeiture and will be subject to a fine and suspension (reviewed by the board on a case by case basis) . Team captains are responsible for the actions of their players and spectators. 

Teams are reminded that the MFL and the venue(s) are not responsible for injuries or personal loss.



Only the captain of each team is allowed to “challenge” the referees. Any team members, other than the captain, that are consistent in “arguing” with the referees will be penalized/ejected at the referee’s discretion.



The MFL Board reserves the right to make changes for the improvement of the program.

After in-house rules, NFL Flag/IHSA rules apply. Games are played with two 15 minute halves with a running clock with the exception of the 1-minute warning at the last minute of the second half, totalling 30 minute gameplay (games may be shortened for scheduling purposes). Clock stops for extra points during the 1-minute warning. Three timeouts per game, limited to 2 timeouts per half. Halftime is 2 minutes. Teams switch sides at half time. Teams have 30 seconds to snap the ball once the ball is spotted and the play clock starts. If a team is winning by 15 points or more inside the one minute period, a running clock will be in effect. 

A coin toss determines first possession. The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its own 5 yard line and has 4 plays to cross the first down marker; teams may choose to go for it on 4th down. If the team fails to get a first down after 3 plays, they can elect to “punt the ball” for the 4th down and the opposing team will take possession at their own 5 yard line. If a team fails to get a 1st down after they went for it on 4th down, the result is “turnover on downs” where the opposing team will receive the ball from that spot. Once a team crosses the 1st down marker, it has four plays to score a touchdown. If a team fails to score a touchdown, the opposing team receives the ball on downs at that spot. A team may declare a punt on fourth down, which would allow the opposing team to receive the ball at their 5 yard line. If a team fails to score after receiving a first down, the opposing team takes over on downs at that point. If a team receives a first down and then loses yards behind the first down marker, it results in a loss of downs and play continues as if the team is still inside the first down marker.


Penetration Rule: A coin toss will determine which team wins the right to choose to (1) take possession of the ball or (2) defend. The ball will start at midfield and have four attempts to score. If a team fails to score, the line of scrimmage will be the distance to beat. Opposing team starts at midfield and has 4 attempts to beat the distance or score.

Overtime during Championship game:

A coin toss will determine which team wins the right to choose to (1) take possession of the ball or (2) defend. Each team will have the chance to score in a series of four downs from the 1st and goal cone (10 yds). If the team scores, they must attempt either a one-point or two-point conversion. If the score is still tied after each team has had a try, a second series is played, and so on until a winner is determined.


Defense is allowed to rush a player(s), regardless of position, only if the player(s) is lined at 7 yards off the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap or after. The official will have the starting point identified. All other players must wait until the ball gets to the line of scrimmage before pulling the flag. No bull rushing, rusher must pick a side of the offensive player and make an effort to avoid a heads up collision. No tackling. Players that don’t rush may play the line of scrimmage. Defensive players playing the line of scrimmage can make contact (press) within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Interceptions are allowed and marked dead at the spot of the completed interception. Teams will take over from the dead ball spot after an interception. Fumbles are not allowed. Fumbles result in a dead ball and spotted where the ball hits the ground.


Teams play with 5 players on the field. Offensive Team – quarterback and 4 receivers/backs (one of those snap the ball to the quarterback) Teams may start a game with 4 players and may not continue with any less than 4 players. If a team starts with 4 players, they may add a 5th player anytime during the game as long as a play is not in progress and that player is recognized by the official. Substitutions may be made in-between plays and must be recognized by the officials.


Quarterbacks are not allowed to run the ball. The quarterback must receive the ball from a snap. All handoffs are done behind the line of scrimmage. Reverse handoffs are permitted as long as they take place behind the line of scrimmage. Players who receive handoffs are allowed to throw or run the ball as long as the hand off takes place behind the line of scrimmage.

10 yards and under are considered “NO Running Zone” which is located as the 2 point conversion point to the endzone (this eliminates any short yard power runs).

Ball carriers are allowed to spin but cannot jump forward. Players are not allowed to jump over the defense to avoid flag pulling. Leaving their feet will result in a dead ball and the ball will be spotted at that point. No jumping forward also applies to No Diving forward.


All players are eligible to receive a pass, including the QB if the ball is handed off. A player must have at least one foot inbounds to complete a reception. Only one player allowed to be in motion at a time, no forward motion allowed.


If the ball is not snapped on time, it is considered a delay of game. One forward pass is allowed per down. Pass attempts that hit any nets or field structures are considered dead on contact. One foot must be inbounds for a reception to be complete.


The new line of scrimmage is marked where the ball is located when the flag is pulled. Deadballs are called when ball carrier steps out of bounds, the ball carrier’s flag is pulled, touchdown or safety is scored, interceptions, ball carrier’s knee or elbow hits the ground, the spot when ball carrier dives/jumps forward, ball carrier’s flag is hidden from the opponent and ball hits any part of the net or field structures.

THE FLAG BELT (Triple Threat Flag Belts © are provided) 

  • ALL T-SHIRTS/JERSEYS THAT FALL BELOW THE WAIST MUST BE TUCKED IN DURING TOURNAMENT PLAY! This is so that shirts will not be an obstruction to pulling a player’s flag. If your shirt is not tucked in before the start of a play, you may be reminded by referees; however, if a player’s shirt prevents him from being de-flagged during a play, a 5-yard penalty will be assessed from the spot of the obstruction.
  • If during a play, the shirt of an offensive player is inadvertently pulled out and obstructs the ability of the defense to pull a flag, the play will revert to a legal one-hand tag. A one-hand tag must be placed on the offensive player by the defense between the shoulders and knees, including the hand and arm for the offensive player to be ruled down.
  • A player who has lost their flag belt (either legally or illegally), during adown, gains possession of a live ball, that player will be considered down only when a legal one-hand tag is made.
  • When a player scores, he must immediately raise his hands and allow an official to remove his flag belt. This is done to assure that the flag belt has not been illegally secured. If the belt

has been illegally secured, the score is disallowed, the player is ejected from the game (possibly the tournament), and a 10-yard penalty is assessed from the original line of scrimmage.


  • No jewelry is allowed
  • No hard billed hats are allowed forward
  • No glasses are allowed; can have goggles with band connection between the frame/temple portion/temple tips of the goggles. 
  • NO METAL OR SCREW-IN CLEATS ARE PERMITTED! If you bring metal/screw-in cleats to the tournament you will not be allowed to play with them on. However, molded cleats are allowed and recommended.
  • Any slippery or sticky substance of a foreign nature on equipment or exposed parts of the body is illegal.
  • No device (protective of otherwise) that may cause injury is permitted.


  • When the whistle blows while the ball is live, the offended team has the option of taking the ball at the spot where the whistle blew or taking the play over. (Rule does not apply when the offensive team fumbles the ball)


  • A team may lateral passes backward an unlimited number of times as long as the pass is

thrown behind the possessing player. A player may throw a forward pass after a lateral

pass, handoff, or backwards pass as long as the lateral was made behind the player that

last had possession of the ball. Only one forward pass may be made per play.


  • In order for a catch to be deemed legal, the receiver must catch the ball without ANY part of the ball touching the ground. A receiver must be able to make the catch without the aid of the ground (trapping the ball). This rule applies to both offensive and defensive players.
  • If a receiver hits the ground and loses possession of the ball before having clear possession of it, the pass is ruled incomplete.
  • If a player is in the air attempting to catch a ball, he must land with at least one foot inbounds with clear possession of the ball before going out of bounds.
  • If a player is forced/pushed out of bounds by a defender before getting one foot down, a referee must determine whether or not it was a legal catch. This rule applies to both offensive and defensive players.
  • If a receiver goes out of bounds on his own volition, he is deemed ineligible to receive a pass. If a player is forced out of bounds by a defensive player, he is

eligible to return to the field of play to receive a pass.


No Blocking down field! Blocks are allowed behind the line of scrimmage (no bull rush and only blocks with open hands). Picks, the offensive player with their arms to their sides, are allowed down field. Referees Discretion.


Result in crossing over the first down marker that is designated on the field. First down is the midfield line. First downs are awarded once a team crosses over the first down marker by a completed pass, a rush, or penalty. The ball must cross the first down marker to be considered a first down. Referees Discretion.


  • Touchdowns 6 points
  • Extra Point (5 yds) 1 point
  • Extra Point (10 yds) 2 points
  • Safety 2 points
  • Once a team has made their choice on the extra point, they can only change their decision by taking a time-out (if available otherwise no change)
  • The offensive player must have possession of the ball and must be in bounds when ball crosses the plane of the goal line to be considered a score. Referees Discretion Defense can not score on extra point conversion.


A Safety occurs when

  • An offensive player carries the ball across the goal line they are defending and is de-flagged while in possession of the ball.
  • When the offensive team commits a holding penalty in the end zone where the spot of enforcement is designated as the spot of the foul.
  • If the offensive team drops the ball in the endzone they are defending.


If at all a team does not have at last 4 players, the game will be forfeited.


Players may substitute on dead balls only.


Ties will be determined by head to head competition, then records, then point differential.




-Delay Of Game: 5 “Yards” From Line Of Scrimmage & Replay Of Down

-Illegal Formation: 5 “Yards” From Line Of Scrimmage & Replay Of Down

-False Start: 5 “Yards” From Line Of Scrimmage & Replay Of Down

-Clipping/Block In The Back: 5 “Yards” From The Spot Of The Foul (Line Of Scrimmage If Penalty Occurs Downfield) & Replay Down

-Offensive Holding: 5 “Yards” From The Spot Of The Foul (Line Of Scrimmage If Penalty Occurs Downfield) & Replay Down

-Offensive Pass Interference: 5 “Yards” From Line Of Scrimmage & Replay Of Down

-Illegal Contact (Offensive): 5 “Yards” From Line Of Scrimmage & Replay Of Down

-Illegal Forward Pass/Illegal Pass Beyond The Line Of Scrimmage: 5 “Yards”/Loss Of Down

-Intentional Grounding: 5 “Yards” & Loss Of Down

-Stiff Arm/Flag Guarding: 5 “Yards” From Spot Of The Foul (Result Of Play Before The Foul Will Stand – If 1st Down Is Gained Before The Penalty, The Offensive Team Is Awarded The First Down Before Penalty Is Assessed)


-Offside/Encroachment/Fake Forward: 5 “Yards” From Line Of Scrimmage & Replay Of Down

-Defensive Holding: 5 “Yards” From The Spot Of The Foul (Line Of Scrimmage If Penalty Occurs Downfield) & Automatic 1st Down For Offensive Team

-Illegal Formation – Defense (3-Point Stance): 5 “Yards” From Line Of Scrimmage & Replay Of Down

-Defensive Pass Interference: Automatic 1st Down At The Spot Of The Foul

-Illegal Contact (Defensive): 5 “Yards” From Line Of Scrimmage & Replay Of Down

-Obstructing The Runner: 5 “Yards” Added To The End Of The Run

-Stripping The Ball: 5 “Yards” Added To The End Of The Run

-Stripping The Qb: 5 “Yards” From Line Of Scrimmage & Replay Of Down

Personal Fouls:

All Penalties Listed Below Will Result In Either A Loss Of Down (Offensive Penalty) Or 1st Down For The Offense (Defensive Penalty) In Addition To Loss Of

Yardage (10 “Yards”).

  1. Swearing/Taunting
  2. Tackling The Runner
  3. Throwing The Runner To The Ground
  4. Roughing The Passer
  5. Tripping An Opponent
  6. Excessive Contact With An Opponent Who Is On The Ground
  7. Making Any Contact With An Opponent Which Is Deemed Unnecessary/Rough
  8. Deliberately Driving Or Running Into A Defensive Player
  9. Any Form Of Cheating, Such As Illegal Equipment, Flag Concealment, Etc.
  10. Fighting – Fighting Will Result In An Automatic Ejection From The Entire Tournament For The Offending Player(S) And Possibly The Team If Deemed Appropriate By The Referees/Mfl Board.
  11. Illegal Equipment

Penalties May Be Greater If Viewed As Unsportsmanlike Or Done With Intent To Harm/Injure. Such Actions May Result In Ejection Or Additional Yardage Being Assessed To The Penalty.