Every NFL great had to get their start somewhere and for some that starts begins with Pop Warner football.
Many Pop Warner leagues across the nation aim not only to provide youth football programs, but cheer and dance programs for young girls.
The Scottsdale Northeast Pop Warner league is no different.
The league is a nonprofit organization equipped with six different age groups for children five to 15-years-old and features several cheer squads for young girls to participate in during the season.
Nearly 150 players compete in the 35-year-old league, according to the league’s application to the Charros.
However, the costs for the league — whether internally or by those who want to participate in it — can start to stack up.
As first-year president of the league, Justin Nielson combed through the budget of the league and realized the Scottsdale Charros might be able to help.
“Knowing many of the Charros from previous events and coaching their sons, I knew that they really cared about building a positive experience for the young men and women within the Scottsdale community,” Mr. Nielson said in a Feb. 14 statement.
“I knew that the grant was available for nonprofit organizations and figured that it would be a great opportunity for our organization to partner with them to build a solid foundation for youth sports.”
Mr. Nielson and the league received a grant worth $5,000 and Mr. Nielson said he has put that money to upgrading equipment and providing scholarships for some kids who might not be able to pay all fees or purchase equipment necessary to compete.
Scottsdale Charro Jeff Harper was the one who sponsored the grant for the youth league.
Mr. Harper is a Scottsdale native who played in the league itself before eventually moving on to Colorado State University. He also spent some time coaching football and as the commissioner of the local pop warner league.
All this football experience led him to sponsoring the grant.
Mr. Harper also cited the growing costs of football and some of the differing financial situations of families in the area as other reasons for helping. He also mentioned the growing risk of concussions in the sport and the need for quality equipment.
“We just wanted to make sure the kids in Scottsdale were fitted with the best possible equipment our money could afford,” Mr. Harper said in a Feb. 15 phone interview.
Mr. Nielson said he is grateful for not only the grant but the support he and his league receive at the hands of the Charros.
One impact Mr. Nielson sees is how the Charros provide positive male role models for the players, which he said many coaches try to influence their players off the field more than on it.
“These guys are all leaders and all good people in the community. I think those guys focusing back on the kids and building the youth in the Scottsdale community is what we need.”
Through football, Mr. Harper said many youth can learn life lessons for they can apply to work, family and many other situations.
It’s those lessons Mr. Nielson hopes those who participate in the league can take with them as they move on.
“We want to create leaders and build something the Scottsdale community can be proud of moving forward,” he said. “With help from the Charros we at Scottsdale Pop Warner can accomplish that.”
News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 623-445-2738