Youth football program tackling violence in Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- Indy Youth Sports says its football leagues are about much more than wins and losses. The hope is that getting kids on the field at a young age will keep them off the streets later in life. “I’m on them about their school work, troubles at school. I talk to them,” said Calvin Cartlidge Sr., one of the IYS football coaches. All too often this fall those player-coach conversations have turned to the ongoing violence plaguing our community. “It makes me feel mad because when somebody gets hurt it makes the other person made because it might be their friends,” said Calvin Cart Jr. who’s a second year player in the league. Organizers say they’re using football as a tool to teach basic life skills, like how to solve your problems without resulting to violence. “Kids need an opportunity to learn how learn how to get along, how to fail, take some criticis, how to take authority, and we just create that environment and teach those lessons” said Emil Ekiyor, president of IYS. Some lessons are easier than others for Ekiyor and his staff to teach. Recently several players asked their coaches about athletes kneeling during the national anthem. “What I explain to kids is this is your country, you do have a right to express your opinion. But then again you do have a right to respect the country you were born in,” said Ekiyor. An example of one of the many difficult conversations that happen as part of this football league that are about much more than sports. “It helps. It helps them a lot,” said Rashonda Benjamin, whose child is part of one of the IYS football leagues. IYS doesn’t just focus on the hundreds of kids it serves through its four football leagues. It also has programs geared towards parents and guardians, for more info on the organization click here.