CONWAY, Arkansas _ Former University of Central Arkansas standout wide receiver Dezmin Lewis was back on the football field Sunday, this time without pads or a helmet.
Lewis is part of the Team USA flag football team competing in the 2022 World Games which are being held in Birmingham, Alabama. The 11th edition of the World Games is an international multi-sport event featuring sports or disciplines not contested at the Olympics and is held from July 7-17. The Games will feature 30 official sports in 54 disciplines and will be contested at 30 venues in and around Birmingham.
Lewis, who ranks in the Top 5 in nearly every receiving category at UCA and has been invited to both the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, is one of 12 players on the U.S. roster. Along with a women’s team, they will face seven other countries at the World Games, with the championship game scheduled for Wednesday.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to compete against athletes from other countries,” said Lewis, who is an assistant football and basketball coach at Lewisville (Texas) High School. “There are exceptional athletes in this competition, so it’s going to be a challenge.’
Lewis is relatively new to the sport after being invited to play by friends in the Dallas area.
“They asked me to come and play with them, and then the United States coach saw me and invited me to try out for that team,” Lewis said. “I was part of the team and now we can participate in the World Games. It’s pretty crazy how everything went.
“And that’s a really big problem. I had no idea how big it was. There are some incredible athletes competing, some who could play at any level of football.”
The sport of competitive flag football is five-on-five. teams playing two 20-minute halves on a 25-by-50-meter field. The tournament is played on historic Legion Field. The World Games flag football draw will feature teams from Austria, Mexico, Panama, Italy, Denmark, Germany and France, which was the United States’ first opponent on Sunday.
Lewis, a native of Mesquite, Texas, finished his UCA career with 197 career receptions (second in school history) and 2,618 receiving yards (third), as well as 24 touchdowns. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
“It’s exciting to have a chance to compete again,” said Lewis, who was a graduate assistant at UCA after his playing career ended. “It’s something new, but it’s still competition on the football field. We want to win everything.
The 2022 World Games will bring together nearly 3,600 athletes from 110 countries.