Sunday, November 4, 2012

NFL and Rod Woodson Touchdown in Vancouver

As exciting, awe inspiring and motivational as the NFL on field product is, perhaps even more so is the NFL’s off field product. For years the NFL and its players and representatives have invested in the youth of America with several programs geared to bring the game to the grass roots level and to uplift the younger generations and strengthen communities.
In the wake of the NHL lockout, residents of Vancouver were treated to a familiar yet different sporting experience. This weekend, the NFL and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson touched down in Vancouver, British Columbia, with an NFL extravaganza that those in attendance won’t soon forget. One thing that stood out was the amount of fun and excitement on faces of the kids and parents who partook in the NFL experience. The NFL couldn’t have chosen a better representative in Hall of Famer Rod Woodson. Woodson took to the field and his larger than life personality made the event a huge success. You may have noticed how this young footballer gave Woodson the Aaron Rodgers "Double-Checked" after the TD. Classic. I had an opportunity to speak with Rod Woodson about his involvement in bringing the NFL experience north of the border to the grass roots of Canada. Woodson is no stranger to helping communities, for well over a decade Woodson was instrumental in running football camps and youth mentor-ship programs with other NFL pros in his hometown in the USA. On bringing the NFL brand to Vancouver and Canada Woodson remarked in his trademark carefree manner,
"It’s been fun. People are really receptive to the NFL and the game. Of course, our game is a little different from the Canadian game, which takes some getting used to, just like anything else. It’s been great to get out here and bring the NFL to the grass roots."
This weekend’s event was just one of the many activities the NFL has been conducting north of the border. George Dudas, Director of Marketing and Partnership Services for NFL Canada spoke with excitement and enthusiasm about the wonderful initiatives the NFL has been able to do here in the Lower Mainland with youths. George's face lit up when he described how recently, Golden Tate from the Seattle Seahawks took part in the NFL's “Take a Player to School” campaign in the Lower Mainland. Dudas illustrated how The NFL’s "Take a Player to School" campaign really strengthens communities as it focuses on inspiring youth to make the most of their in-school and after-school time and encourages them to make smart and healthy choices. Players engage the students and encourage them to set goals and work to achieve them. Needless to say, goal setting is an integral part of youth development. As part of the campaign, Golden Tate came and spent the day with a local family here in the Lower Mainland. He had breakfast with them, played catch with their children and then took the kids to their elementary school (Cougar Canyon) in a limo! The school was invigorated by his presence and the students made Golden Tate murals to welcome the Seattle Seahawks star. The host family also received tickets to watch the Seahawks take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in what turned out to be a classic showdown. I spoke with Jason, the father of the family, and he said the entire experience was unbelievable for his family, the kids, the school staff and the community. According to Jason:
“It certainly made a lot of new young fans of the NFL”
Programs like NFL Play 60 which encourage youths to be active and engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise daily, have served to both spread the love of football and physical wellness, and is just one of the many reasons why the NFL is king among professional sports in America. South of the border, these types of NFL programs are widespread, however, at the moment, they are limited to only a handful of Canadian communities. To me, there’s no greater gift that can be made to a community than an investment in the youth and future generations. It’s certainly something I’m committed to doing with The Dream Hoops Academy and it’s encouraging to see a major household brand like the NFL investing in our local communities.

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