AUSTIN - Over 100 Central Texas teens had the opportunity of a lifetime to attend a special youth football camp hosted by NFL players and coaches at Pflugerville High school. Their mission -- to teach aspiring players the basics and safety of the game.
"I like the physicality, the team, and just working with a bunch of guys and just having fun," said Tanner Owen, 15.
The New Orleans Saints defensive player Alex Okafor hosted the event, showing students the ropes to one of the most intense sports.
"When I was growing up, we didn't have camps like this. Now we have two or three of them... and it's a great feeling to contribute to that,” Okafor said.
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Kareem Martin and Jacksonville Jaguars guard Earl Watford were among the players brought in to help.
"A lot of kids don't get to see professional athletes every day. Now you're seeing six or seven here at one time; it’s just motivation,"
Campers are taught how to properly block and train.
"If you have good technique, you won't put yourself in a situation where you'll get hurt,” Tanner added.
But not all the lessons were physical. Athletes worked with the kids one-on-one, teaching them how to build teamwork, discipline, and confidence.
"The little things are important. Always work hard and get more out of football, not just on the field but also off the field,” said Mylan Mitchell, 15.
The camp serves as an outlet and helping teammates develop connections.
"Learning these fundamental things at a young age can help them in the long run,” Watford said.
The group hopes the training will inspire teens to push themselves to their limits, especially after meeting an NFL player from their hometown. Okafor played on the very same turf when he was their age.
"If these guys make it, then I can make it if I put in the work,” Martin said.
And although it will take time for their skills to develop, the work they put in will always shine through.
"Man, I tell you what, we learned some patience!” Okafor said as he laughed. “No, other than that, it just reminds us how fun football is. We sometimes forget…but you know it’s a kids game,” he added.
Okafor says his first camp was a success and plans to come back to offer more sessions annually.
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