“The families that we serve are from low- to moderate-income areas, and they don’t have these opportunities, so this really fulfills a goal of the Police Athletic League of bringing these programs to our local kids,” said Phillip Ray, executive director of the P.A.L. of Tampa. “The Bucs and the Glazer Family Foundation have been extremely supportive of our program over the years. We drive home the same principles that the Bucs teach – respect, self-discipline, self-control, and self-esteem – and we do that through our volunteer coaches, who I’m very proud of.”
The Police Athletic League is a registered non-profit 501c3 organization that is dedicated to providing affordable after-school, summer and athletic opportunities to more than 500 Tampa Bay children. P.A.L. has partnered with the Tampa Police Department to provide a safe, healthy environment for the community’s children and teens. P.A.L. teaches fair play, working as a team player, and good sportsmanship, as well as programs on the importance of sound nutrition and physical conditioning.
The P.A.L. Patriots, a member of Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., is an active participant in USA Football’s Heads Up Football program, with all of its coaches having received Heads Up Football certification. The Heads Up Football program, supported by the Buccaneers, the NFL, and teams throughout the league, promotes a positive youth football experience and advances player safety by providing coaching education and teaching resources that benefit players, parents and coaches. All Heads Up Football youth coaches must be certified; which includes concussion recognition and response protocols; proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting; and Heads Up tackling techniques.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford and Buccaneer Legend Dave Moore present the Police Athletic League with funds to help renovate the organization's gymnasium
“Our first priority is getting the kids on the playing field, and with the Heads Up Football program and the extra training from the coaches, safety is always No. 1,” added Ray. “There’s been a lot of talk about tackle football, injuries, whether or not coaches are properly trained, and if kids are being taught the right way to go out and play, and programs like this absolutely supplement that.”
In addition to the team’s donation, Moore spoke to the team about the importance of football fundamentals and safety before he and Ford surprised the P.A.L. youths with 250 tickets to Tampa Bay’s preseason game on August 28. During that game, the Buccaneers will celebrate USA Football Month and recognize the NFL’s Heads Up Football campaign.
Moore, who played 15 years in the NFL, including 13 seasons with the Buccaneers, was recently named one of the team’s Heads Up Football Ambassadors. More than 130 former NFL players are participating as Heads Up Football Ambassadors, working with youth and high school leagues in all 50 states to reinforce the Heads Up Football message. Heads Up tackling, coaching certification, concussion recognition and response, head and hydration awareness, and proper equipment fitting are all part of Heads Up Football, through which more than 5,500 youth football leagues and nearly 1 million youth football and high school players have signed up to participate this season.
“The safer you make the game, the better the opportunity, the better the experience for younger kids, and the better for them for the long term,” said Moore. “From a health perspective, it works out for everybody, and it’s certainly a great move by the Bucs and the NFL to make an effort to improve the game.”