49ers Youth Football hit the ground running in July, kicking off the month with two ambitious camps which drew in youthful fans from around the nation. Youth and their parents flew in from South Dakota, Ohio, and even New York to be a part of the 49ers 3-Day and 2-Day Youth Football Camps. Taking a new approach to the annual event this year, the 3-Day Camp hosted 150 youth ages 10 to 14, while the 2-Day Camp followed later the same week with attendees ages 6 to 9. It was five days of adrenaline-inducing drills and memorable moments to be captured for a lifetime.
"The goal of these camps is to give kids a unique opportunity to learn the great game of football and practice where the pros play," shared Youth Football Manager, Jared Muela, "Each camper has the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of every position on the field from placekicker to quarterback. The most important part, however, has to be that the kids have fun."
The two camps included a series of non-contact drills which addressed the fundamentals and importance of positive sportsmanship of football. Drills revolving around passing, ball carrying and tackling were infused with emphasizing the teachings of heads-up football and proper hydration. 49ers players provided participants with coaching tips, photos and autographs, followed by an assembly of contests, music, relays and old-fashioned fun with 49ers mascot Sourdough Sam and Gold Rush cheerleaders.
"All of these kids have the potential to be anything they want to be in this life," stated 49ers safety Eric Reid, "We are encouraging them to listen to their guardians, go to school and work hard in order to accomplish all they are capable of."
"I look at this camp and think back to when I was a kid," added nose tackle Ian Williams, "I want help these kids in learning heads up tackling, and the simple fundamentals of the game we love."
Youth football week culminated with USA Football's Protection Tour which was held at NFL and college football stadiums and training facilities around the country to teach the Heads Up Football curriculum. The Protection Tour consisted of an educational session that taught parents and coaches about the importance of Heads Up tackling, proper equipment fitting and concussion awareness. Youth attending the one-day event headed to the SAP Performance Facility field to participate in Heads Up football drills and exercises and learned proper equipment fitting techniques to help lower the risk of injury and guarantee all will get the most out of their 2014 season.
"We are proud to partner with the 49ers to host the Protection Tour in the Bay Area for the third consecutive year," said Nate Boudreaux, USA Football's Associate Director of Sponsorship Services and Grants. "The facility was great and more importantly hundreds of youth football players and parents took home knowledge to help make a better, safer game."
The initiative to teach player safety, sportsmanship and the fundamentals of football poured into the remainder of the month, as the 49ers hosted the Youth Impact Program with Stanford Football. The Youth Impact Program (YIP) is an innovative summer program that partners with universities across the United States and their local NFL team. The program targets at-risk middle school male students and provides them an opportunity to study STEM based curriculum along with full contact football
49ers Youth Football and Stanford Football put the 100 young men through a series of warmups, drills and positive practices which create a collaborative sense of team and respect for self and others. The respectable teens and preteens arrived at the facility in awe and eager to play football. It was only a matter of seconds into the event that one individual began encouraging the next and the enthusiasm spread from a single youth to all those in attendance—proving YIP is truly making a lasting impact.
"Most young people who play sports will not grow up to be professional athletes, but the skills they learn through participation can help them become responsible, respectable adults," said Muela, "Football in particular is a great way for kids to learn the value of sportsmanship, accountability, working as a team and hard work which will carry them throughout life."