Steelers football seeks help with trip

Published 9:25 pm Saturday, October 12, 2013

With hard work and success come great expectations.

The football coaches of the Suffolk Inner City Athletic Association have had a profound impact, both on and off the field, on the lives of the 150 boys, ages 5-15, who play for them each year. Right now, these coaches are trying to make sure the young players of the Suffolk Steelers can see the fruits of their labor.

As of Friday, the Steelers team in the midget division, ages 12-15, was 6-0 for the 2013 season and is eligible to participate in regional competition. Two other squads in younger age divisions were one win each away from eligibility, as well.

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“They work very hard to get to this point in the year,” SICAA president Robert Faulk said.

The catch is, regional play happens in Raleigh, N.C. and teams participating must have the money for that trip and also be prepared financially for a trip to Orlando, Fla., should they advance to the national championship games.

The cost per player for the 12-15 age team will exceed $800, but the team is seeking donations of any size from individuals and particularly corporate sponsors.

Faulk said the team already has received support from Greater First Baptist Church Orlando, Oak Grove Baptist Church and Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Because the time frame is short, he figures corporate sponsorship will need to be a significant factor. The SICAA must have the money by the end of this week.

Faulk said many of the Steelers come from very poor families and would likely be on the streets, unmotivated and unattended if they were not on the team. He said some parents cannot even afford to put their children on the team, but the coaches get the money together so they can.

Then, they supply them with discipline, structure and good examples to follow.

Ronald Richardson is head coach of the 12-15 age Steelers squad.

He said he enjoys “being a role model and mentor for some of these kids that don’t have a father figure in their life.”

The SICAA serves its players through the Pop Warner Little Scholars Football and Cheerleader Program. The emphasis is on education and character ahead of football and cheerleading.

The SICAA has partnered with churches, which have offered tutoring services in the past. That arrangement was not in place this year, so some of the coaches did what they could to help, again, with positive results.

In order to play, the boys must hold at least a 2.0 grade point average.

Their parents notice the overall impact of the association, as well.

“Parents say their kids have really turned around since they’ve been with us,” Faulk said. “A lot of them go from here and stay out of trouble.”

Now, Faulk, Richardson and the other coaches are seeking to honor the hard work put in by the boys since August with a post-season ride.

“That’s all they’ve been talking about after the fifth game of the season is going to Raleigh,” Faulk said.

“We need Suffolk’s help,” Richardson said. “We need Tidewater’s help.”

To donate, contact SICAA treasurer David Baker at 539-9407 or mail the donation to the Suffolk Inner City Athletic Association at P.O. Box 651, Suffolk, VA 23439.