Youth football coaches, city leaders, discuss ways to make games safer in wake of recent shootings

Jacksonville, FL. — City leaders, police and the leaders of Jacksonville’s youth football community, met at City Hall Monday night to discuss ways in which the games could be made safer children and families.

City Council Member, Terrance Freeman, called the meeting in the wake of recent shootings at Youth Football Events in Jacksonville. Representatives from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the city’s parks department, were also present at the meeting to hear the community’s concerns.

“Tonight, was an opportunity for the people of Jacksonville, particularly those who are involved with the youth sports, to come to city hall, and share what we as a city could do better,” said Freeman.

On March 14, JSO said a man started shooting at a youth football tournament in Greenland Park, where approximately 500 people were present.

No one was hurt.

In October, Action News Jax reported when a man was killed, and a seven-year-old was injured, at a youth football game in Arlington.

Youth football leaders expressed their concerns and needs one by one during public comment.

“Unfortunately, I watched a guy die right front of me … at Arlington field,” said Shawn Fountain, Westside Football League Athletic Director. “In the [Greenland Park] I watched the guy with the sawed-off shotgun, shooting, and backing up to where all the kids were.”

Several coaches expressed the need for a visible police presence at every game.

But they went on to say it’s a cost their associations can’t always cover on tight budgets. “I did a tournament last year, and every time, I had to pay for officers,” said Joseph Adams, president of the JLA Rams.

Coaches also expressed concerns about reliable access to quality facilities.

Freeman says he’ll be pushing for funding to increase the police presence at youth football games, and access to better facilities.

“I know that this council person is going to be advocate for those coaches in that room, in fighting for dollars, intentionally, to go towards programming, prevention programs. That’s what sports are!” said Freeman.