NFL Foundation And Minnesota Vikings Refurbish Youth Fields In Minneapolis Before Hosting The Super Bowl
Before the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots take to the field for the Super Bowl this weekend, local youth football teams are celebrating the arrival of their new football fields. A trio of organizations including the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program, a national nonprofit organization called the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and the Minnesota Vikings have worked together to refurbish 10 fields in Minnesota.
It’s part of a 20-year effort by the NFL to bring athletic fields to kids in under-resourced communities in areas where the League has a team. To date, the NFL Foundation and LISC have spent over 40 million together to refurbish or create more than 350 fields in 100 cities, with LISC helping to serve rural communities in 44 states. Fields are newly built or significantly renovated, with improvements including irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goal posts, and turf.
Safe spaces to play are not only good for kids, they’re good for communities. A report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concludes that activity-focused spaces in neighborhoods have a significant impact on mental health, and violence prevention, lowering the risk factors for chronic disease, higher graduation rates, more cooperation among neighbors, and other benefits.
The Vikings have contributed $1.6 million toward the most recent local efforts in Minnesota in advance of this year’s Super Bowl, helping to refurbish athletic fields and recreational areas such as the Jimmy Lee field where St. Paul’s new mayor, Mayor Melvin Carter, used to play as a child. The much-used field, built in the 1960s, had fallen into disrepair, but was renovated in 2012 with astroturf, lighting, landscaping, additional fields, and even a play area for smaller children. Today, Mayor Carter has had the opportunity to see his own children play on the very same field.
In another local neighborhood, students at Como Park Senior High had never been able to host a varsity football game. Now they have a field where they can host home games for the first time ever. The positive change in not just the facilities — but in the players and community — could be felt almost immediately.
“Playing before was tough,” former Central High School student, Opi Aghenu, said of his school’s football and baseball fields before the renovations by the NFL and LISC. “It was a great improvement to come in, as a player, and play for the first time in my life on a real field. And more people showed up for the games! It was packed. The field wasn't an eyesore anymore; it was something to be proud of."
Aghenu also spoke about the confidence it gave him as he went on to play football at nearby Concordia College in St. Paul this year, something Maurice Jones, LISC chief executive, knows about on a personal level. The former high school state champion quarterback is passionately invested in the ways football and other sports can help youth develop leadership skills and build relationships that can last a lifetime. He calls it the “highlight of his upbringing” in rural Virginia.
“I know the power of sports,” he said, “And the relationships with coaches, and relationships with teammates, and learning fair play, and the discipline you need to play at your highest level, competing with honor — those were all lessons I learned on the football field, and lessons I’ve taken with me throughout life.”
Share image courtesy of NFL Foundation.
Senegal Beats Poland By Scoring The Sneakiest Goal Of The World Cup It was completely legal too.
For Teen Athletes, One Sport Is Good But 2 Or More Is Better A recent “Teen Sport in America” study examines the effects of multi-sport participation.
Here’s What Happens When Kids Run For 15 Minutes A Day The initiative has an endearing backstory.
ESPYs To Posthumously Honor 3 Marjory Stoneman Douglas Coaches For ‘Immeasurable Bravery’ Previous winners include Phil Jackson, Bill Belichick, and Bob Hurley. This year will be different.
New James Cameron Documentary Explores The Athlete Vegan Movement “At our very first screening at the Sundance Film Festival, I had a long line of people who wanted to know how to start eating plant-based RIGHT NOW.”
The U.S. Isn’t In The World Cup, So You Should Root For Iceland Many are choosing the hot underdog from a cool place.
How Skateboarding Flipped Its White Male Image It’s a sport to be enjoyed by all.
‘Star Wars’ Composer John Williams Dissed His Beloved Red Sox By Pitching In An Orioles Jersey Some say he went to the dark side.
High School Pitcher Skips His Team’s Celebration To Console His Friend On The Opposing Team “Our friendship is more important than just the silly outcome of a game.”