NASSAU, Bahamas – Already splitting time between preparing for the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl and enjoying Atlantis, several players from FIU and Toledo added something else to the mix on Wednesday afternoon by giving back to some Nassau youth.
The afternoon started with representatives from the Rockets and the Panthers spending time with kids of various ages at the Ranfurly Homes for Children.
“Well, this is a great experience, and the children look forward for it every year – to the clinic; to the game on [December 21]. We’re so delighted that they are able to experience it all with the players, to connect with the players,” said Ranfurly Homes for Children assistant administrator Princess Burrows.
The players played several sports with the children, with games of knockout and 3-on-3 basketball being one of the highlights.
“I know how it is to work with individuals who are going through a hard time,” said Toledo junior defensive tackle Willie Ross. “It’s not that you need to go through a hard time for me to just spend time with you. I just want to say, ‘hi, hello, how are you doing,’ and help make everyone smile.”
Following the visit to Ranfurly Homes, a new batch of players from each team helped conduct the Youth Football Clinic, sponsored by KFC, just outside Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. Many expressed their excitement for the clinic, as the number of participants continues to grow on a yearly basis.
“Obviously, if you look at the numbers, the numbers keep on increasing every year,” said Columbus High School (Fla.) head coach and clinic director Chris Merritt. “This is the fourth year in a row I’ve had the opportunity to come do this. There are a lot of kids out there, so hopefully the sport is continuing to grow in the Bahamas.”
Merritt also was not the only person to see more than the clinic numbers grow, as the passion for football is increasing in the Bahamas, as well.
“I can see football becoming more and more popular in the Bahamas,” said bowl game Honorary Ambassador Ed Smith. “The bowl game is one of those things that kids can come out and see the game and say, ‘wow, that is something I would really like to get involved with.’”
The youngsters capped off the clinic by showcasing their moves in a touchdown dance competition in one of the end zones.