Stolen football equipment puts a damper on the start of the youth team’s season


JACKSONVILLE, Florida – The Forever Life Achiever Vikings youth football team – with kids as young as 5 – had over $ 7,000 in equipment stolen a few weeks before the start of the season.

At practice on North Jefferson Street on Tuesday, some children wore helmets and epaulettes. Some had one or the other. Some didn’t.

That’s because when team president Rickie Simon Jr. opened up his storage shed that contained the equipment on Monday, he was shocked to find that 46 helmets and 44 sets of shoulder pads had been slipped on. Simon said the total loss of the items listed on the police report was $ 7,315.

“We’re actually having a scrum next week, and the scrum is vital for our kids to have the opportunity to have this preseason experience with helmets and shoulder pads,” said Simon. “For some, this may be their first experience with helmets and shoulder pads, so the scrum with another opponent gives them the confidence they need to start the season.”

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The good news is that Simon has already asked members of the community to offer to participate where they can, but they still need more help getting helmets and protection for the children.

Every year, Simon said, he pays out of pocket to make sure children have what they need to play football and learn these valuable life lessons.

Simon led the teams for nine years and, last spring, he attended the high school graduation of his first class of children who had played for him. The impact he is trying to have through football has been a central concern of Simon, who grew up in the Brentwood area playing on the same pitches.

“This was our first year, going to the graduation of our children who we served in the Blodgett,” said Simon. “When I went to graduation one of the kids was so excited that his youth football coach was in attendance. To be able to provide for these children means the world, because it goes beyond football. “

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If you want to help out, Simon has set up a way to collect donations. To find out how to donate, call 904-859-5453. Simon has also set up a Cash app for donations to $ flavikings.

He says he’s struggled to find new equipment due to a plastic shortage impacted by the many supply chain challenges in the wake of the pandemic, but he hopes to find a way to bring it to bear. all his players have helmets and shoulder pads. in time for the start of the preseason.

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