The 12 to 14-year olds from Austria, Canada, China, England, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Thailand and the United States worked with local children to build an international garden at the NFL Youth Education Town. Each team planted a different flower that represents their country and decorated their space in the garden with their home flag. Long after the FFWC players leave, New Orleans children will enjoy a tour of the globe right in their backyard.
‚After the hurricane everyone in our country was shocked to see the devastation in New Orleans, and it is good to do something to help these people,” said wide receiver Jacob Hackel from Austria’s Wenzgasse Vikings.
‚We planted some plants from our country and it was nice to build a garden for people here to enjoy after we have gone. The French quarter is very nice and there are many things to see, but you can see here in this area how everything has been destroyed. This is a cool place for the local kids to come and play.”
In 1993, the NFL created a permanent legacy of the Super Bowl for the children in the host community by donating $1 million towards the development of the first NFL Youth Education Town, an after school facility that would restore hope and growth in at-risk neighborhoods. The New Orleans NFL Youth Education Town suffered substantial damage at the hands of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed. The New Orleans Saints were instrumental in funding the rebuilding effort and helped restore the building and lost resources.
Inside the YET Center, the FFWC players joined local youngsters to play pool, air hockey and foosball. Canada’s representatives the Steeltown Steelers from Hamilton gave some coaching tips and played an impromptu game of flag football with their new friends.
‚We just suffered our first loss of the tournament against these New Orleans kids,” joked Canadian coach Matt Hill. ‚To see all the different cultures, especially to be playing around with these kids in their home, it was a great experience. I just remember the images on TV where all you saw was water, but now that we can see the aftermath and what they went through. With some buildings still torn down and damaged it really opens your eyes to what happened here.”
The eighth annual FFWC kicks off at the New Orleans practice facility in Metairie on Thursday, August 9 at 8am and resumes on Friday, August 9 from 8am to 12pm. The top two teams emerging from group play will contest the championship game at 3.30pm on Friday before the Saints take on the Buffalo Bills in the Louisiana Super Dome.
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