The Detroit Lions may have not been at Ford Field this weekend but Detroit PAL was at Ford Field this past Saturday as the Detroit PAL Football Championships took place. It was an amazing day as nearly 800 boys received the opportunity to play on the same field as the Detroit Lions do, allowing the players and coaches to experience the arena of a professional sport that many kids don’t have access to.
One of the teams competing for championship was the Tigers C-Team (10 and under) and Head Coach Christopher Moore made it no secret that he was happy to be at Ford Field just like his players.
“When it comes to Ford Field, the Tigers have been here often.” Coach Moore said. “However, I told my coaches and players to not take it for granted that we are here again because there are 22 teams in the league and everyone doesn’t get this opportunity. While we have been here three out of the last five years, we understand every-time we get here it’s a huge accomplishment.”
Coach Moore also stressed how he encourages his players to make goals for themselves every season along with the coaching staff.
“Before the season starts, I always make a point to ask my team what are your goals and to be realistic with their goals” Coach Moore replied. “Every year they say our goal is to win a championship and every week after a win or loss, I remind them that the goal is to play in November and get to Ford Field but to also win at Ford Field.”
While football is definitely a bright spot for the Detroit PAL and these young men, Coach Moore also stressed how his lessons and relationships with his players go beyond the football field.
“I make a point to develop a relationship with them off the field because I feel that is more important” Coach Moore said. “When I first came to Detroit PAL, Lorna Council who is the current president of Detroit PAL Tigers Teams told me something that I will always remember which was ‘kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’ and that just stuck with me and understood that I had to build a rapport with them and once I did, they believe in me and what I was telling them.”
Ten year old Deion is one of the players for the Tigers also and while this was his first year playing football for Detroit PAL,he had plenty of great things to say. One of the those things being that he felt that he had a family in his coaches and teammates.
“I feel safe with my coaches and teammates.” Deion said. “I’m not by myself, I know my team will always have my back and I don’t have to worry about anyone talking badly about me because everyone on the team is my friend and we are all a family.”
Deion was also happy to admit that he was happy to play at Ford Field and that Coach Moore is his favorite coach.
“This is my first time playing on Ford Field, so I was very excited.” Deion replied. “Coach Moore has been my favorite coach since the beginning of practice and I am happy to be a part if his team.
10-year old Darion who is also a member of the Tigers C-Team mentioned how he learned about sportsmanship while participating in Detroit PAL.
“I was taught to treat my teammates with kindness.” Darion said. “I was told by my coaches that you treat your teammates and opponent how you want to be treated.”
When it comes to Detroit PAL, the coaches and players weren’t the only one speaking positive, La’Tia Love who is the parent of , also spoke very highly of Detroit PAL Football and Detroit PAL as a whole.
“I have seen a change in my son since he started with Detroit PAL Football” Love said. “My son was typical kid of the 2000 generation, always in the house playing video games instead of being outside and playing. Since joining the football team, he is more interested in going outside and improving his game instead of being in the house playing video games.”
While being part of Detroit PAL football helped to get her son out of the house and outside playing, she also stated that it helped her son to lose weight.
“When my son became active with Detroit PAL Football, it allowed him to get more exercise and lose a lot of weight.” Love said. “My son was overall overweight, he was around 170 pounds and now he is down to 130 which came over the course of the summer program and him working hard and not giving up. Of course he had his moments when he wanted to quit because he was tired but myself and the coaches would let him and it payed off because he is now one of the fastest players on team.”
Love also stressed how her son being involve with Detroit PAL goes way beyond what he does on the field.
“I feel being part of Detroit PAL helps my son to know there are plenty of positive people and things going on in the city of Detroit besides what he hears or sees on the news.” Love replied. “Detroit PAL helps to give him hopes and dreams and to help look past the crime going on in the city right now and most off all know that he can grow up and be anything you want. My son’s coaches and mentors are great role models for him, they continuously show my son what a real man is and how there are still men in this world who care.”
Kalina Walker who also has a son on the Detroit Tigers C-Team shared a similar feeling about Detroit PAL.
“I like Detroit PAL because it’s very organized. Walker said. “I have been part of other organizations and I feel Detroit PAL is more of family then just an organization. Everyone comes together for the children, so I feel it’s been a great learning experience for my son.
Overall, it was a great positive event at Ford Field this past Saturday. Football, is Detroit PAL’s largest and longest running program out of the eleven programs offered. With 2600 youth participants in football, part of Detroit PAL’s football programs’ success is the 800 coaches and volunteers who donate there time to mentoring the youth. When you consider the statistics of crime and single parent households in Detroit, Detroit PAL is proud that 85% of coaches in our organization are African American males. These coaches lend their time five days out of the week to building character through athletics with the hopes of seeing their kids make it on and off the field.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com