The Columbus Lions and Operation Homefront are teaming up to offer children of active-duty military a chance to be a part of an all-military arena football team in the Youth Football League at the Columbus Civic Center. Sponsored by Operation Homefront and other various organizations, the equipment and jerseys will be provided at no charge. Registration cost is free.
The idea for the all-military team, named the Patriots, is the brainchild of Kim Scofi, president of the Operation Homefront Georgia chapter and Lions’ head coach and youth football league director Jason Gibson.
“(sponsoring) the team is a way to thank children for their sacrifices and thank them for their strength while their parent is deployed,” Scofi said.
Gibson said the team will be a way for military children to get involved in the community outside of Fort Benning.
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The football team will play on Saturdays at the Columbus Civic Center against teams in the Youth Football League, which consists of teams from Columbus, Waverly Hall, and Phenix City. Teams will play six games.The team is limited to the first fifteen 9-to-10-year-olds who register. There will also be an all-military children’s dance team for the first 12 children ages 8 to 10 who sign up. The dance team will perform at the football games and during the Lions halftime show.
Both the football and dance teams will be formed on a first-come, first-served basis, Scofi said.
Fort Benning television will stream each of the team’s games online at www. benningtv.com.
“Soldiers who are deployed can still be an active part of their kids’ lives,” Scofi said. “Even though they can’t go to the game, they will be able to watch it online and feel like they were there.”Scofi has high hopes for the team in the future, she said.
“This is the first time we have (had an all-military team),” Scofi said. “If it is successful — which I think it will be — we would like to expand it and also look into hosting it at other installations.”