Youth football tournament aims to combat violence

Youth football tournament aims to combat violence
The goal is to use football as both a means to keep kids on track as well as a platform for them to release steam. (Photo source: WLOX)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Cleats plowed across the grass in the football fields at Goldin Sportsplex Saturday, as more than 16 youth teams played in the 2016 Turkey Bowl.

But just over a week ago - it was a very different scene at the same location after shots were fired during a large brawl.

"I know this community has more to offer than what the camera showed, and what those kids cell phones showed, so it's our job as leaders in this community to shed more light on the positive things," said tournament organizer CJ Bailey.

Bailey organized the tournament, bringing out young men ages 5 to 14, to stand up to the troublemakers and take back the public space for its intended use.

"The kids need these events because this is what keeps them off the streets, this is what gives them something positive to do," Bailey said.

The goal is to use football as both a means to keep kids on track as well as a platform for them to release steam. Parents say they think it'll work.

"This is some kids life. They get into it, and like wow. They're like 'I have a team I have camaraderie, I have a brotherhood kinda thing.' And I think that's why kids need that mentorship, that guidance from a coach a friend, and it'll keep them on the right path," said parent Tracee Fletcher.

Tony Taylor added, "I thank CJ for bringing this event up here so we can give people a chance to see something better in Goldin fields."

The hope is to have more events to keep youth busy and in turn eliminate incidents like the brawl.

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