PORT RICHEY — A new football season is fast approaching and the local Salvation Army youth league needs help.
Practices are already underway and the league’s nine teams are preparing for opening-season jamborees next week. Play is ready to go on, but updated equipment for the current and following seasons is still needed.
The Salvation Army Pasco Corps football league is heading into its 15th year of providing an option to families looking to involve their children in the sport, but who can’t quite afford the cost or travel accommodations involved with other area organizations.
“Our main goal is to keep the cost down,” said Bobby Riordan, the Port Richey Salvation Army Community Center director, who is in charge of the football league. “We’re at $150 right now and all the other leagues are anywhere from $200 and up. We’ve got to keep the costs down to make sure we have enough players and help the families in the community.”
The Salvation Army league consists of three teams (Chiefs, Dolphins and Titans) divided into three age groups: Mini-Mites (ages 6-8), Mites (9-11) and JV (12-14). Overall participation this year is at about 150 players, Riordan said.
Keeping the inclusive league running has been Riordan’s passion since starting it with his father-in-law 15 years ago. And that drive began with his own personal experiences.
“When I was a kid I wasn’t able to play sports, period, because my parents couldn’t afford it,” Riordan said. “So when I had a chance to start working for the Salvation Army and we started a football league, our goal was to make sure we made enough money to cover the costs of the program.
“That’s the main goal. We aren’t in it to make money. With that in mind, I can’t tell a kid no. When a kid comes to me, or the parents come to me and they say, ‘We really can’t afford it but we really want our kid to play,’ well, we’re going to make it happen. I don’t want to have another kid like me that wasn’t able to play sports. So we make it happen and we make it possible for them.”
Through donations from individuals or businesses in the community, the Salvation Army is hoping to raise upwards of $10,000, which would go toward new helmets for every player as well as shoulder pads and other related equipment.
Anyone interested in helping the Salvation Army’s football program continue its play can send donations to: The Salvation Army, 7745 Ridge Road, Port Richey, FL 34668. Specify donations to go toward Salvation Army youth football.