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Keeping Youth Football Alive in the Offseason

Between studying, lifting and training, the modern meaning of "offseason" for a football player can be defined as "a few days off here, a few days off there." For 49ers Youth Football, the "offseason" is in full swing, maximizing time and capacity and reaching more Bay Area youth than ever. In May, the program kicked off the first of what will soon become over 100 summer time Gatorade Jr. Training Camps.

"The goal of our camps is to teach basic running, throwing, catching and tackling skills," said Youth Programs Coordinator Tucker Baksa, "We also want to use our camps as a tool to get kids to play outside, be active and have fun for at least 60 minutes a day as part of the NFL's Play 60 initiative."

In addition, Gatorade Jr. Training Camps exemplify the importance of hydration to keep kids safe on the field. Baksa and the 49ers Youth Football program are exceeding the goals of their mission, hosting over 30 camps and impacting 3,000 youth in less than one month.

Following the kickoff of the GJTC program, the 49ers partnered with USA football to host the inaugural Mom's Health and Safety Clinic at the SAP Performance Facility and began preparation for the Player Safety Coaches Clinic which took place the first week of June. The Mom's Health and Safety Clinic provided parents with the opportunity to candidly discuss player safety and concussion awareness with a panel of mothers, 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell, Vice President of Football Operations Jeff Ferguson and representatives of USA Football.

"One of the key components to USA Football and our Heads Up Program is engaging parents, in particular moms," expressed Executive Director of USA Football, Scott Hallenbeck, "It is important to inform them about the benefits of the game and how we can make it better and safer. This includes equipment fitting, concussion management, heads up tackling and heat and hydration while emphasizing the importance of their role in that process."

"Education is key," added Ferguson, "With USA Football and the Heads Up program, if you start with technique and combine it with education, we can create concussion awareness and limit player injuries."

A focus of player safety and ensuring that football continues to become a safer sport is a popular practice of 49ers Youth Football and is the primary mission behind the annual Player Safety Coaches Clinic with USA Football. Coaches from near and far joined for a day full of valuable health and safety information regarding their athletes, lessons on proper equipment fitting, execution of drills and informative tools which player safety coaches can refer to at any time thanks to the efforts of USA Football.

Though 49ers Youth Football has proved to have an impactful offseason after a record breaking year of football camps and youth outreach, the program has much more in store for the football season ahead.

"We are always looking to create new and innovative programing to help teach kids the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle and teaching them the game of football," said an enthusiastic Jared Muela, Manager of 49ers Youth Football, "In the past year we have taken great strides to help increase the number of programs and events we offer to give more and more youth the opportunity to participate."

Muela is referring to the 114 Gatorade Jr. Training Camps held last season in addition to multiple USA football events and the program doubling their signature 3-Day Youth Football Camp held in July—directly reaching nearly 15,000 youth through 49ers Youth Football.

"We have almost tripled the number of "Gatorade Junior Training Camps" we offer each year, and have strengthened our relationship with USA Football to bring new events like the 'Moms Health and Safety Clinic' and 'Protection Tour' to our facility in Santa Clara." This fall look for new programs and events such as the first high school football games to take place at Levi's® Stadium through the "Friday Night Lights" series. The double-header will feature Santa Clara's own Wilcox High versus Manteca, followed by national high school power De La Salle taking on Jesuit of Sacramento. To reserve your tickets for this unique event, click here.

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