GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A youth football league out of north Gulfport hosted a back to school giveaway Saturday. William Smith founded the Gulfport Youth Sports Association in 2012. Over the past three years he has made it his mission to make an impact on these boys' lives.
"I started a mentoring program to help mentor the kids, and a tutoring program to help tutor the kids with their grades, to teach the kids that it's more than just about football. It's also about school and education," said Smith.
Smith and his team live out that promise to make the league about more than just football, by hosting an annual back to school giveaway where the players receive school supplies and vouchers for a free haircut.
"It's a blessing for the kids. A lot of these kids can't afford to go get haircuts. Some of their parents can't afford school supplies. So, we try to give back every way we can," said Smith.
The students in this youth football league are not only guided on the field, but those same coaches mentor them off the field.
"A lot of that is just to help these kids try to make better decisions when they're in a situation where they could make a decision that could ruin their life," said Leroy Johnson who is the league vice president.
It's the investment the league puts into their kids that make the parents happy.
"It's really inspiring. That's something that my boys need," said Samantha Johnson.
Keisha Williams agrees. Her two sons have been with the league since the beginning.
"If you're in a single parent home, to have a group of guys as amazing as our guys to talk to your kids and be there and call and make sure grades are on point, you can't get no better," said Williams.
The league's founder says there are about 300 students signed up to play football this year.