Coaching the 118-member Brooklyn United football team is a gratifying and challenging job for Adam Howard and four other young fathers who comprise the Commission. It’s unbelievable that the League was formed just six months ago, but during this time, the junior division has managed to defeat all of their competitors and earn the title of “Champions.”
The four other Commission members are Elijah Waife, Dashun Smith, Gary Tucker and Carl Keitt. All five Commission members have sons who play on one of the teams. Females are welcome, but presently there are none. Adam said of his young athletics, “They are focused youths who perform well beyond their age, and have shown strict commitment and discipline.”
There are several divisions. The younger players are 5 and 6. The senior group range in ages 8 through 13.
In the Brownsville area of Brooklyn, there are few recreational outlets – this is one of them. The turnout Saturday mornings has been phenomenal. Proud fathers attend in mass to cheer on their little football players, while the mothers man the grill and buffet table for the spectators and players. The requests to join the league far outnumber the ability of management to accept players in either division.
The critical requirements are jerseys, helmets, cleats, allowance to travel, updated safety equipment, porta toilets, field grass maintenance, and rental space for use during the winter months. After paying the $150 registration fee, many of the parents and guardians are not able to buy the necessary equipment.
The Brooklyn United budget shows the deficit which has been paid by the “Commission” members. Considering that most of the members have sons playing on a team, this is a financial strain on their resources, but it is one they know could make a difference between success and failure for so many underprivileged Brownsville youth.
The generosity of the Commission members can be heard in the many letters of appreciation they have received. For instance this letter received from the mother of a team member named Flash, “I really appreciate all that you men do for my son. As you know, I have officially been declared blind, and the doctor says there is nothing else he can do for my vision. Jacob is and has been forced to be the man of the household. He doesn’t know how to cope emotionally and I won’t be able to see none of his highlights on the field or him growing up. I just ask that you guys continue being a vessel of leadership.”
Another letter said, “Thank you. Prior to being hurt on the job I was a Probation Officer for 12 years. The last 7 were with juveniles. Unfortunately our youth get caught up, glorify negativity or make negative life choices. BU is exactly what our youth need. Again, I thank you.”
From a Tiny Mite parent came this thanks. “I’m very pleased with the way the team is. It’s nice to see my sons interacting with positive men…This is such a great compliment to each and every one of you. Please keep on this path. Please pass this on to the coaches I have missed.
These are only a few of the letters of appreciation received by the Commission
The reputation of Brooklyn United has spread far and wide. On the recent National Night Out, when the community and police come together to highlight violence, for unity and purpose, Police Commissioner Bratton unexpectedly landed a helicopter at Floyd Patterson Field in Brownsville, took advantage of an opportunity for a photo-opt, met and congratulated the proud junior football players. After this impromptu, but well needed visit, the team received an onslaught of request for membership.
Nearly 20 requests were received that day and at least 50 more since then from mothers, fathers and other family members seeking a spot for a youngster on the team. They didn’t bring money, contributions/resources of any type! They bought their young, who desire to play, learn, and make friends. This creates an opportunity to build, nurture, develop responsibility, direction and skills. Keeping this in mind, “no” is not an option.
Adam Howard and the Commission have set an example of what can be done by giving youthful energy a positive and productive outlet. With adequate funding, this type of organized sportsmanship can be duplicated city-wide.
If you would like to contribute to the growth of this league, or to obtain more information, please contact [email protected]; (718) 510-7822.
Let’s produce many more champions!