Coachella Little Arabs Program gets young athletes ready for Friday Night Lights

Talialaina Letoi

We’re just weeks away from the Friday Night Lights returning to the Coachella Valley. But before young athletes hit the gridiron under those lights, some train under the lights over at Bagdouma Park. The Coachella Little Arabs program develops young athletes for the next level.

The head coach of the Little Arabs 13u, Aaron Gasu, says it’s more than just teaching football to the next generation for him.

“I think it’s good,  I love being a part of the community and taking the kids right here in Coachella, getting them out of the streets and bringing them into football and using football to grow their character and turn them into young men.”

From 6u to 13u, these young players are all learning and building a foundation to get to the next level. And many in the 13u who are preparing to go to high school soon say

“I’ve been with the Little Arabs for two, three years,” says Noah Ramirez. “The coaches are nice and my brother’s a coach so it’s really nice and the coaches just really helped me here and they give you opportunities.”

For Juan Ruiz, he calls it a ’10 out of 10′ experience.

“You know, being around my friends, having fun and learning new things every day. The coaches are  incredible… Just to experience it 10 out of 10.”

And it’s more to it thank just learning the game of football.

Abel Garcia says, “my favorite part being a part of this — is having a family here and having people to help you out and to teach you how to do it.”

He also says the coaches all teach differently but they all have one goal and that’s to help make them better.

“It’s taught me to not be afraid to ask questions on the field.  Coach Adam, he’s always there to help you, Aaron too — who will get mad at you, but he’ll support you in anything.

For Kevin Torres, his teammates are his brothers and he takes pride in leading the way and protecting them on and off the football field.

“It’s like having a big family. And I’m mostly responsible the family, I take care of them. It’s like they’re all my brothers.”

Coach Aaron says, “We’re very competitive here and the little Arabs community, it’s a family here. So we push our kids to be the best player that they can be and then character as well.”

Meanwhile, many star athletes under the Friday Night Lights now, first shined with the Coachella Little Arabs, like Aaron ‘2k’  Ramirez. He agrees it was more than just football with the program during this time with them.

“I was  with them for about like five years plus for sure. It’s a good program you know, it felt like another little family. I mean, I felt welcomed there once I once I joined. I just I just connected with my families and found like my brothers. Once I got to practices just locked in we just got to business.”

The young running back just had a breakout year with the Coachella Vally Mighty Arabs last season. As a sophomore, he ran for 1,800+ yards and recorded 30 touchdowns wit the Mighty Arabs. He’s entering his Junior year and is estatic to keep the momentum going this season.

Coach Aaron says, while he wasn’t here during Aaron Ramirez’s time, that sentiment is echoed from every corner.

“The style of coaching and the culture that’s here has been the same and so we’re trying to create these young men and grow them as they continue to move forward in this journey.”

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