- Faith & Family
The First Annual Football & Cheer Clinic was hosted by hometown heroes — now NFL players, Armando Allen, Jr. and Thaddeus Lewis. Seventy-five children from different parks and recreation departments came together last Saturday afternoon to learn skills, and enhancement drills at Sherbondy Park Village.
“We [support] them all the way; a lot of folks leave and never come back,” said City of Opa-Locka Mayor Myra Taylor said. “No one pushed these guys to come up with the idea — it was all them — and seeing two hometown guys come back means a lot.”
“This is very exciting, being from [Opa-Locka] we felt compelled to give back,” Lewis said. “Great minds think alike and two heads are better than one; so we came up with the idea and we did good and we help put this together with the City’s help.”
Participating children were placed within their age groups by grades (Pre-K — 9) to run chopping and reaction skills. The young athletes also displayed their running skills with a relay race, before going into the pavilion for lunch.
“I strongly support this and will continue what I have to do to make the City great,” said Opa-Locka Commissioner Timothy Holmes. “The kids will look and say to themselves, if these guys started out in the [Opa-Locka] area and they made it and moved on, we can do the same.”
Opa-Locka commissioner Gail E. Miller wanted to show citizens that there are always methods that can help to improve their community.
“It’s always been known that [Opa-Locka] was the poorest city, but you look around us we are not poor,” Miller said. “We might be rich in one area and poor in others but we’ve held our own here for 86 years.”
“It’s a great feeling to come home and give back to a program that once shaped me and my dreams,” Allen said. “I always told myself this is something I wanted to do and if I ever had the chance or opportunity to give back I would.”
His biggest supporter, Valderia Allen, is his mother — she says she was overwhelmed when she heard about the clinic.
“I was very excited when I heard about what Armando and Thaddeus wanted to do,” she said. “I am so proud of them.”
But Lewis reminded the boys and girls that their primary focus should be on getting good grades in school.
“It’s not all about football or other sports — your grades will get you to places that football cannot,” he said. “Out of all the division one schools, only two percent make to the pros but many more go on and earn their degree.”
By Eric Ikpe
Miami Times writer