PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A local youth football team has qualified for a national tournament, but is in need of donations to get there.
“We’ve been raising money but we’re short,” said Tom Coston, coach of the Portsmouth Intercity Panthers.
The Pop Warner team, consisting of 12 and 13-year-old boys from Portsmouth and Suffolk, has had a winning season.
“We only lost one game, all our other games we let nobody score,” said Lloyd Green, the team’s running back.
For the first time in the team’s history, it’s qualified for the national championships at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
“I think this will change a lot of their lives,” Coston said.
He added that the non-profit program has already positively impacted the players.
“We have a lot of kids that went through a lot this year… went through a lot, period,” he said. “I’ve been mentoring on and off the field… you know a lot of my kids, they have anger problems. I’m just helping ’em, being a mentor.”
Player Cameron Butler, from Suffolk, describes the team as a “brotherhood.”
Coston said the team needs roughly $22,000 to attend the tournament, which is scheduled for next week.
Not being able to go would be crushing, players told 10 On Your Side.
Each is trying to raise $1,000 a piece, and an online fundraiser has been launched to help out.
Coston said that teams come from all over the world.
“It’s big. I want them to get the experience.”