Many youth football coaches try and create a unique identity for their team or their program. One way to help mold that identity is to do things differently and more creatively than the other teams in your area. Another way is to get the players, parents and the people in your community “on your side”.
Here is a simple project that helps you to do that:
Free Football Shoes Project:
This is a great project that can be a benefit to a team no matter the economic position of your players. Most football cleats these days cost in the $40 -$95 range and if a family has several boys playing, add in the entry fees and fund raisers, and it gets very expensive, even for middle class families.
In January we go to all the used clothing stores and buy all their used football cleats. Where we live there are 6-7 of these stores within a 3 block area. The selection in January is great, there are lots of pairs that have obviously been used just one season. They sell for anywhere from $3.00 to $6.00, you may be shocked to see the great brand names available and the excellent quality of most of theses shoes. We usually buy between
50-60 sets every January/February, as you get closer to the season, the selection dwindles significantly. I take the shoes to the Laundromat, remove the shoelaces and put them through the washing machine, then air dry. I then add new shoelaces and these shoes look very sharp, nearly brand new.
On equipment hand out day we schedule a community service project for that morning. In the past we have taken garbage out of the extended field area we play our games in
( 8 dumper loads of debris, it is a jungle), we have planted trees and bushes at the local High School we play games at, etc . The kids are required to WORK for one hour on the project in order to earn a pair of shoes. The kids get a coupon good for one free pair of shoes at the end of their hour of work. The kids learn that work has rewards, the community gets a nice project accomplished with about 100 kids and we all come together a little. We now have parents that have didn’t have to shell out a bunch of money for new shoes or have players playing without cleats. We have even had the local TV station film this event to get some favorable press.
You are asking yourself, if there are 100 kids working the project and you only bought 50 pair of shoes, where did the rest come from? We ask everyone to donate their shoes at the end of each season at the equipment turn in. Most players will not be able to use the same set of shoes the next season, they grow out of them. We let our parents know we need shoes, it seems we get at least 10-15 brand new in the box pairs donated every year from them or their friends. One year a friend of a friend of a friend got a great deal in some closeout sale and donated 25 brand new pair to us.
With our Omaha inner-city teams this is a huge blessing to many of the families. Before we started doing this, we would often have 20% of some of our teams players playing in tennis shoes, we even had a kid show up in dress shoes to one game and another showed up in boots. The smiles on the kids faces are very satisfying as they put on their “new” pair of football cleats, really a pretty priceless moment.
Say you don’t want to go through the effort of putting on a project of this nature, you can do a simple shoe exchange. Just have your players bring in a set of shoes to your equipment handout, if they donate a pair of cleats they get a coupon that allows them to pick out a set of cleats from your shoe table. You could go out and buy some used shoes to build up a small inventory to get started. Our method seems to work very well because we control the quality of the shoes, no scarred up muddy shoes are part of our exchange, all our shoes look about perfect and no one is embarrassed about wearing these shoes.
Our parents and kids know we care about them, we want them to be able to wear descent shoes without spending a bunch of money and everyone appreciates the work/reward model we are trying to teach.
This has been another post into Dave Cisar’s Winning Youth Football Site
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