Football tournament’s goal: better police-community relations

A seven-on-seven indoor flag football tournament – one involving four Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland youth teams coached by local law enforcement officers – will take place before the June 16 Cleveland Gladiators-Baltimore Brigade Arena Football League game at Quicken Loans Arena.

The event, co-sponsored by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Cleveland Police Foundation and Believe in Dreams, is designed to promote positive interaction between inner-city youth and police officers as well as to encourage a sense of cooperation.

The youth football games will start at 3 p.m. The Gladiators game is at 7 p.m.

“One of the crying needs our neighborhoods is to build better relationships between police officers and the community,” said Ron Soeder, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. “An event like this helps build trust and cooperation between youth and law enforcement.”

Coaching the King Kennedy Club team will be Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Chief Andy Gonzalez, while Cuyahoga Community College Police Chief Clayton Harris is in charge of the Broadway Club squad. The team from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Club will be coached by Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Commander Quenton Jordan and the Saint Luke’s Club squad will be overseen by Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Deon McCaulley.

The tournament is being made possible, in part, by a Larry Doby Youth Fund grant awarded to BGCC to help build bridges between kids and law enforcement. About 500 Club kids and parents will be able to watch the flag football tournament and the Gladiators game. Club kids will perform the national anthem and be involved in other pre-game festivities, including the coin toss and delivering the game ball.

Fox Sports Ohio generously donated the use of its Fan Express bus for the day, enabling kids from all Clubs to get to the game. In addition, the four teams will be wearing uniforms donated by Buffalo Wild Wings.  Additional sponsors include Cuyahoga Community College and the Gladiators.

In addition to special events like this one, each of the 15 Cleveland-area Boys & Girls Clubs will hold quarterly events in which police officers will interact with Club kids in an informal setting.

Earlier this month, NOBLE, along with officers from local departments, presented to Club kids a program showing them how to react in a situation involving police. This national program is dedicated to improving relationships between youth and law enforcement.


NOBLE serves as the conscience of law enforcement by being committed to Justice by Action. NOBLE has nearly 60 chapters and represents over 3,000 members worldwide that represent chief executive officers and command-level law enforcement officials from federal, state, county, municipal law enforcement agencies and criminal justice practitioners. The combined fiscal budget oversight of its membership exceeds $8 billion. NOBLE serves more than 60,000 youth through its major program components which include: Mentoring, Education, Leadership Development, and Safety.

About the Cleveland Police Foundation

The Cleveland Police Foundation is an alliance of business and civic leaders, law enforcement organizations and citizens committed to the ideal that a dedicated, well-trained and modernly equipped police service leads to a safer community. Its mission is to strengthen the bonds between the Cleveland Division of Police and the citizens it serves, working together to make our city safer for all. To accomplish that goal, the CPF works proactively to support and invest in programs, community policing initiatives and engagement, events that foster stronger relationships between citizens and police officers, and police charities.

About Believe in Dreams

Believe in Dreams a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization that was created to help fulfill dreams for children who are economically disadvantaged and have suffered from a non-medical hardship. The organization strives to provide joy and happiness to kids who have had a rough time, believing that giving them hope that things can turn around and get better.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland

Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland provides safe, fun places for kids after school. The organization, which has 15 locations in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland, served more than 7,000 youths last year. BGCC focuses on academic success, healthy lifestyles and character development.