Central Youth Club hopes to revive football program

By Marvin Birchfield

   The Central Youth Club will attempt to make its return to football this season after being without a program for the last six years.
   1996 was the last time that Central participated in youth league football, but they hope to be back this year if everything goes as planned.
   "The big thing right now is getting the help. We've got enough volunteers, but we need money for equipment," says league commissioner Kevin Lacey.
   Lacey is the commissioner of the football program, and his biggest concern is that the kids will have the proper attire to go out and play in a safe manner.
   "All of the pads and the equipment they had were donated to the Elizabethton Boys Club, when it was decided that Central would no longer continue their football program," said Lacey. "So anyone who will be willing to donate some pads right now would greatly be appreciated."
   Lacey says the school has been good as far as giving them permission to use the field, and that he has spent money out of his own pocket trying to get the field back into playing condition.
   "I've been averaging about 30 hours a week trying to get it ready, and I've irrigated and watered it trying to get ready for play," says Lacey.
   The playing field had money poured into it at one time, says Lacey, and he thinks it would be a shame for it to set and go to waste.
   Lacey will have to depend on the powerboard to help with servicing the lights. It's hard for one man to change out a light at 40 feet in the air.
   With Central not having a football team for its students to play on, the kids had to go out and find somewhere else to compete.
   "Some of the boys right now either go to Happy Valley, or the Elizabethton or Johnson City Boys Club, and I hate for the kids to have to go somewhere else when they go to school here," said Lacey.
   One of the expectations for Central to rebuild its program is to ensure that kids have somewhere to go other than running the streets.
   "We're looking to make this a good program, and it will help detour kids from getting out and hanging around with the wrong crowds, and it also gives them a reason to keep their grades up," said Lacey.
   The main thing is keeping kids active, rather than them finding things to do, which sometimes leads to trouble.
   People have been supportive in returning Central's football back to status, but it's just the funding that they're concerned with right now.
   "We can't do much if we don't have the funds to do it with," says Lacey.
   Different fund raisers and promotions are in the works, so this effort can be made possible. But there is a definite need for the community to step up and assist in whatever needs are required.
   "Any business or individual who would like to sponsor a team is welcomed to do so," says Lacey. "Even if they wanted their names put on uniforms, we would do so in order for these kids to get a chance to play."
   They have contacted several businesses so far, but have had no success in finding someone who wants to donate funds, which are so desperately needed.
   If things go as planned, Central will be competing in the Watauga Junior Athletic Conference with teams like Happy Valley, Hampton, and Johnson County just to name a few.
   Jonesborough entered the league last year, and it was anticipated that they might not be able to make it through, but they did and Central hopes to be able to do the same.
   "We took the same elected officials in basketball and headed them over the football program," said Lacey. "I hope we can keep the same group of people for the next few years until we can get this back into the swing of things."
   The age group will range from 5-7 year olds in the flag division up to the pee-wee's 11-12 year olds.
   Signups will be held up until next weekend with a $30 entry fee for each participant.
   Anyone needing information on volunteering or making a contribution toward the league should contact Kevin or Edna Lacey at 416-1300 or 416-8911.