Minnesota youth players take the field with USA Football grant support

By Samuel Teets | Posted 8/8/2022

Mankato North Mankato (MNM) Youth Football in North Mankato, Minn. was one of the more than 1,500 youth leagues across 49 states that received a grant through USA Football’s spring grants program this year. USA Football awarded nearly $1 million worth of new equipment and resources this spring, including $1,000 worth of shoulder pads for MNM Youth Football’s third grade program.

“Our organization really appreciates that USA Football is willing to give back to us and support all the kids in our program,” said Neil Kaus, MNM Director of Youth Football & Sponsorships. “We had 842 kids participate in 2021 and are projecting 950 participants in 2022 with 140 coaches. USA Football provides all the necessary tools for us to be successful. It is our job to make sure these tools are being used. We consider success to mean seeing fewer injuries and fulfilling our goal for all kids to have fun playing the great game of football. Your dedication to the game is priceless.”

USA Football’s grants are fulfilled by the non-profit’s partners, Riddell and BSN SPORTS, leaders in protective equipment and team sports apparel. MNM Youth Football will receive its shoulder pads from Riddell.

MNM Youth Football is an expanding league that will add Mini-Tikes Football, a version of flag football for Pre-K four and five-year-olds, this coming season and 2nd grade tackle football in 2023. This year the league will offer flag football for children from Pre-K through second grade and tackle football for kids in grades 3-6.

This is MNM Youth Football’s fifth successful application for a USA Football grant within the past 10 years. The support allows Kaus to replace older equipment.  

“Our organization aims to provide the best equipment, programing, coaches, fields, concessions and referees,” said Kaus. “Our goal in working with USA football is to work with all of our coaches (head and assistant) to get certified and gain extensive knowledge onto properly teaching tackling, blocking and running organized practices.”

MNM Youth Football approaches the game with an eye toward teaching its young athletes long-term lessons about the basics of football and life. All players receive equal playing time while scores and standings aren’t kept at any level. Winning takes a back seat to athlete development, both on and off of the field.

“We teach team bonding,” explained Kaus. “Our athletes play as a team regardless of winning or losing. They develop friendships both on and off the field and carry those lessons to other areas of their lives.”

MNM Youth Football’s athletes are some of the more than 500,000 youth and high school players across 9,500 programs in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. that have benefitted from more than $15 million in grant support that USA Football has awarded since 2006.