We Play Here: New Albany After-School Football Team Builds Players, Character

- UPDATED

If you drive by C.W. Heath Park in Albany after school in the afternoon, you’ll see a busy scene across the practice fields. That’s where one of Albany’s newest Pop Warner football teams is practicing, along with their cheer squad.

The team, named the Georgia Gators, joins the ranks of other Pop Warner teams across South Georgia in practice and competition each week. Students ages 6-12 are eligible to take part in the after-school activity.

But it hasn’t been a walk in the park for the team’s organizers. Anthony Rivers and TyQuasha Gilbert took on the roles of team President and Vice President, respectively.

The football team and cheer squad meets for practice each weekday after school, and attends scheduled league games on Saturdays. It’s a lot of hours each week for these two and all the other volunteers who show up to help the team for practice and games.

The cheer team for the GA Gators Pop Warner football team in Albany practices their routines.

Gilbert, who is a full-time teacher, says the league provides a constructive after-school outlet for kids in a safe and welcoming environment.

While the football team is practicing regularly, Rivers noted the team doesn’t have all of their needed equipment yet – mainly helmets for players. Kids football helmets don’t come cheap, and he said the team is still in need of about 20 more.

If you would like to donate a helmet to the team, they have established a partnership with R&S Sports shop in Albany. Supporters can call or visit the sporting goods store and let them know they wish to purchase a helmet for the Georgia Gators Pop Warner Team.

R&S Sports can be reached by phone at (229) 888-3755 and the store is located at 3212 Gillionville Rd in Albany. Gilbert also has a team Cash App account set up at $THEGEORGIAGATORS. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Team members of the GA Gators Pop Warner team line up at the scrimmage line for practice.

The Gators play their home games in Albany at Dougherty High School on Saturdays, and travel to other cities for away games. Some games in the league are held as far away as Columbus, GA.

Pop Warner is a non-profit youth football, cheerleading and dance organization, with programs across the United States.

According to its website, Pop Warner’s core focus is to serve youth, striving to encourage and increase youth participation in football, cheerleading and dance, ensure a safer and positive playing environment for all participants, and instill life-long values of teamwork, dedication and a superior work ethic on the playing field and in the classroom.

Pop Warner describes its mission as the following:

To enable young people to benefit from participation in team sports and activities in a structured environment. Through this active participation, Pop Warner programs teach fundamental values, skills and knowledge that young people will use throughout their lives, while emphasizing the importance of academic success.

To provide fun athletic learning opportunities for children. Specifically, Pop Warner seeks to familiarize players and spirit participants with the fundamentals of football, cheerleading and dance. Pop Warner strives to inspire youth to practice the ideals of sportsmanship, scholarship and physical fitness as reflected in the life of legendary coach Glenn Scobie “Pop” Warner.

You can learn more about Pop Warner at their website, and the introductory video below.

229 Life regularly covers things to do, where to eat, and places to explore and visit across South Georgia. Do you have an event you would like to share with the best people in South Georgia? Submit yours on our community calendar here.

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Christian
Christian
Christian is the founder of 229 Life, a community hub for South Georgia. He likes exploring, eating new foods, and beach vacations. Say hello on Twitter at @tellmckinney.

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