The organization's leader said the players often don't have the money to pay the league registration fees.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- As a city police officer, Malik Mostella sees daily what can happen to youths who aren't given proper direction.
That's why he's working to find support for the young members of his South Side Little League football team and its cheerleaders.
"If I can teach you ... to throw a football," Mostella said, "there's less chance that I'll be chasing you through the streets later on."
Mostella is president of the Fighting Little Redmen Football organization, with three teams that compete against other Little League teams in the city and suburbs.
Equipment: Because many of the teams' players are inner-city youths, they don't always have the funds to pay their own registration fees. But organizers turn no players away. After years of forgiving the fees, the organization has suffered.
It needs new equipment, new uniforms and help with fees, Mostella said.
He's turning to local business owners for help. He said he hopes sponsorship brings needed funds but also needed role models.
"We want the kids to see that you can stay around here and make it," Mostella said. "... Kids need to see that."
Sponsors: While the city has fewer business to draw from than the suburbs, Mostella said he hopes to develop a community base of sponsors. One local businessman, who asked to remain anonymous, has agreed to help out with a fundraiser at his business this spring.
Mostella is the father of two boys. Brandon, 10, is a Little Redmen player. Nicholas is 4.
The organization has about 60 players ages 6 to 12, separated into three weight divisions -- 95 pounds, 115 pounds and 130 pounds. There are more than 40 cheerleaders. And while they may be short on funds, the players aren't short on talent. The group's 115-pound team was undefeated last year.
Mostella described the group as a family organization with coaches and trustees who all played as children.
He said the experience keeps families together and teaches a sense of community to the kids, who see their parents donating their time to set up for games and run concessions.
"They learn to respect one another, their community and the adults around them," Mostella said. "And they learn teamwork."