State of Play is here to Save the Day

By Omar Thabet

Lets face it; the United States of America has seen a decline in participation with youth sports in local communities.

Former Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson and the Ralph Wilson Foundation teamed up with the Aspen Institute to do a study in nine separate counties in Southeast Michigan about participation in sports by youth.

The study found that 13% of Southeast Michigan youth get one hour of daily physical activity, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From the 13% who participate in sports, 15% are boys and 11% are girls.

The study breaks down participation in youth sports by ethnicity as well. According to the Aspen Institute findings, 14% of youth athletes are black, while 12% are white and 8% are Hispanic.

On Tuesday, June 27th, members of the Ralph Wilson foundation held a press conference to share the data with the public. The press conference was held at Keyworth stadium, which is located in Hamtramck, Michigan.

Secretary for Hamtramck’s Board of Education, Salah Hadwan, said, “The Ralph Wilson Foundation will look to donate more than 1 billion dollars for youth sports in the Southeast Michigan and Buffalo, New York areas.”

According to Hadwan, the money will be used to, “Help the families within the communities get the proper resources they need so their kids can stay active and play sports.”

Hamtramck Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Niczay was in attendance at the State of Play press conference Niczay was excited for what’s to come for Hamtramck and surrounding cities.

“I’m hopeful they will have more activities available for the kids,” Niczay said. “Whether it’s facilities, teams, coaches, training, clinics, or spaces to play remains to be seen. I’m hopeful the community of Hamtramck will benefit from this by having more opportunities for the kids to become actively involved in sports.”

There were close to 100 people in attendance at the press conference.

One of the attendees was former NBA All-Star Derrick Coleman. Coleman was invited to the press conference because he grew up in the Detroit, so he understands some of the challenges the youth face within the area.

Coleman stated, “In our society we are worried that we need more kids to go out and play sorts. Sports are so important in our lives because of what we become and the friendships and the relationships we develop during it.”

Coleman was one of the speakers at the press conference. His concentration was not only on youth participation in sports, but also making sure the kids were fed properly.

“We have to figure out our wrap around services for our youth when you’re talking about hunger and everything else they are facing,” Coleman said.

Coleman also mentioned that basketball is a way for him to sit the kids down and actually get personal with them. He finds out what their problems are so he can meet them halfway and help anyway he could.

Coleman closed out the interview by saying, “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We just want to enhance what the communities are doing and to be able to bring our services to what you are doing to help these kids. “

Trustee for Hamtramck Board of Education, Moortadha Obaid, was also in attendance at the conference. Obaid said he hopes Hamtramck holds more events similar to this one so it can help the kids within the community.

“The money will help our kids and their futures,” Obaid added.