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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

YOUTH GAMES: Jacksonville Team Brings Football to Town




For the athletes from 40 plus exhibition sports that didn't get on the official program for the first World Youth Games but nevertheless came to Moscow to participate, this is a great chance to show their skills for the world-wide audience.


One of those sports is American football, and on Friday afternoon Team USA, comprised of kids ages 13 to 15, from Jacksonville, Florida, will take on their peers from Moscow's Children's League of American Football at Dynamo's Small Arena.


The Americans came to Moscow well prepared, bringing not only players and coaches but their own cheerleaders as well.


"We brought a large group -- 79 people, including 25 players and 10 coaches," said Patrick Steenberge, president of Global Football, the organization that promotes American football on college, high school and youth levels.


The U.S. team, which arrived last Friday, had to raise money itself to come here.


"Because we are a demonstration sport on the youth program, we have to pay for our stay here," said Steenberge. "We raised a total of $180,000, half of which came from the city of Jacksonville. The rest came fromfamilies and local sponsors."


It was the whole city's effort, even the home-town NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars chipped in, donating their authentic helmets and jerseys. Being well equipped can give you confidence, even if it's your first trip abroad. Such is the case of the Team USA starting quarterback Charles Hall and his teammates.


"We're gonna win," said the confident 15-year-old freshman from Ed White High School on Tuesday.


While the Americans may be brimming with self-assurance, one U.S. team found out last June the hard way that the young Russians also know the game. The youth team from Meadville, Pennsylvania lost 28-0 to the Moscow city select squad in the same Dynamo stadium.


"Well, the Russian kids looked pretty big and strong, but the biggest adjustment for our kids will be playing on astroturf for the first time," said defensive coordinator Kevin Fogan. "It will be their strength against our speed."


Game time is 5 p.m. at Dynamo Stadium. Metro: Dynamo.