Tulare County sheriff’s program is a touchdown for county children
The smiles on their faces said it all - they were having a lot of fun.
After all, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux told the 200 boys and girls from Elbow Creek, Stone Corral and Ivanhoe elementary schools to do exactly that, “ have fun. Have fun today. I mean it.”
It didn’t matter the color of their uniform, they all run, played, exercised and showed great team skills. Two dozen flag football teams participated in short scrimmage games on multiple fields.
More than 700 people - families, coaches, law enforcement, elected officials, etc. - showed up at Ivanhoe Elementary School on March 23 for the kick off the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office’s new NFL Flag Football League.
“This has been a dream of mine to get our children and our community together to work with law enforcement, to work with the Sheriffs Office,” Boudreaux said. “The Sheriff’s office is a failure without this community. We are so thankful for you.”
And the vision of the new program goes beyond Ivanhoe, a town with a population of 4,014, poverty rate of 38.6 percent, median household income of $31,611 and median property value of $109,500 and with 83.3 percent of its population are Hispanic with more than 78 percent of the population non-English language speakers.
Boudreaux said he wants the new flag football league, which is operated under the umbrella of the Sheriff’s PAL Program, to spread throughout the county.
“Here is our bigger vision. We want to have this football league here in Ivanhoe. We want to take it to Terra Bella, Richgrove. We want to take it to Tipton, Earlimart, Pixley. We want to take it to Orosi-Cutler,” said Boudreaux adding that Saturday’s kickoff was just the beginning of great things that “are going to take place in Tulare county.”
Those communities are small agricultural towns in the county with poverty rate on those towns going from 53.9 percent such in Earlimart to 33.3 percent in Terra Bella.
Boudreaux thanked the coaches, the parents and all of those who have sponsored the league.
The free, family-friendly event included community carnival and parade of teams, concessions, community information booths, the Sheriff’s Deputy Buzzzbee, Swat Bearcat as well as sheriff’s units on display including the UAV drone unit and K-9.
“For the first time in the history of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, we are reaching 224 children who ordinarily would never be able to play this type of sport,” Boudreaux said. “Be a part of your team, be a part of your community and let’s get our kids involved in something other than gangs and drugs.”
According to the sheriff’s department, thousands of dollars have been raised to help pay for the new flag football league, which is free for boys and girls in grades K-8.