Northwest Illinois League helps better the youth of today and tomorrow with USA Football grants

By Kevin Meyer | Posted 12/19/2022

Terrance Beloch knows the value of sport for the youth in his community. That’s why his instruction doesn’t start and stop with the X’s and O’s of football.  

Beloch stepped into a leadership role with the Northwest Knights after coaching with the program for several years, inheriting a group that was down on its luck and lacking access to updated equipment.  

The Knights are a part of a local community center in Rockford, Illinois.  The program serves approximately 70 youth ages 6-12 from primarily low-income families. The community center has been in operation for 20+ years, and youth football is an annual sport offered through the center.  

The Northwest Knights faced annual obstacles, including purchasing uniforms and equipment. While the group uses fundraising to bring in added capital to support their program, challenges still exist in bringing modern and updated equipment to the local youth. Beloch was quick to see USA Football’s grant program as an answer to the issues faced by the Northwest Knights program.  

“Your [USA Football’s] grants have helped us out tremendously,” Beloch said. “The grants have allowed me to get new uniforms and get the equipment up to speed; the helmets, the shoulder pads and things like that.” 

Beloch has utilized multiple grants from USA Football to outfit his program with updated gear and lower the cost to play for the predominantly low-income households in his area. The grants provided by USA Football allowed the Northwest Knights to use their annual operating budget to subsidize costs for more families who otherwise would not have been able to afford the participation fees. Beloch’s passion for his organization over 8-9 years of service has revitalized and strengthened the club, even through the pandemic. 

“Many of our parents are parents on a lower income level, and the most that we've ever charged for the registration fee is $80. We found that some just can't afford it otherwise,” Beloch shared.  “It helps them get their kids active in something, and if we can keep the kids active in something then everyone benefits. If we can make it cost effective for them it benefits us and it benefits them, and it keeps them coming back.” 

Beloch credits the grant program at USA Football for ensuring the Northwest Knights continue to operate noting, “What our community center does is offset the cost of the registration, and so the only thing that we ask the parents to buy is the cleats. So socks, pants, jerseys, helmets, shoulder pads, mouth guards, etc., we provide all of that. It’s the USA Football grants that allow us to be able to do that, so it's a blessing for us to be able to help them in the way that we help them and keep our program alive.” 

USA Football receives support for its grant program from the NFL Foundation. The non-profit's grants are fulfilled by partners Riddell and BSN SPORTS.