LEXINGTON, Ky. - September 4, 2008 - NCAA Football, in association with Russell Athletic, Wilson Sporting Goods and Pop Warner, recently awarded each of more than 40 youth football leagues and teams with $3,000 in credits for new uniforms, equipment and more. This inaugural grant program was created to allow the leagues to receive NCAA Football replica jerseys and pants through Russell Athletic, footballs from Wilson, or provide registration fee waivers for financially disadvantaged families.
"Our current game uniforms are about five years old," said grant recipient Bobbie Thiessen - vice president of operations, Eagle Youth Sports, Inc., of Winter Park, Fla. "These new uniforms will help us achieve our goal of making the youth football experience affordable and increase community awareness of our league."
To obtain the grants, leagues and teams filled out applications through Pop Warner citing financial need and how the grant would be used. Some grant winners chose to award participation scholarships to low-income youth, while others chose to outfit young players in jerseys just like those worn by their favorite NCAA Football team.
"NCAA Football is thrilled to be able to assist youth football leagues nationwide welcome new participants and motivate those participants to pursue a college education," said Bob Vecchione - chair of the Youth Initiatives Committee. "We're excited to see what these teams will accomplish with their grants, and we're looking forward to receiving even more applications for next year's program."
In addition to the grant program, NCAA Football's Youth Initiative includes Youth Day clinics that were held in three cities in July and several events surrounding the BCS National Championship game in January 2009. The Youth Initiative strives to attract more youth participants to the game, provide them with additional motivation to pursue higher education opportunities, help them develop the necessary skills to be successful on and off the field, and help to establish a new base of lifelong NCAA Football fans.