A league of his own: Milwaukee tradition keeps thousands of kids off the streets

It's a story that's Positively Milwaukee
Posted at 5:59 PM, Oct 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-28 22:43:30-04
It's a Milwaukee tradition built on passion and commitment.
The Neighborhood Children's Sports League (NCSL) has kept thousands of kids off the streets through the years.
"Our program has been around about 56 years. I'm the last in a long line of people who were smarter than I who created this program" explained President Earl Ingram, Jr.
On an overcast fall day, more than 1,000 people hit the gridiron on a Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Park.
"These are the children from some of the poorest zip codes in the community," explains Ingram. "We are trying to build character through football. Football is our tool."
Despite the huge crowds, the tournaments go off without a hitch.
"Kids get the opportunity to play the great game of football in front of thousands of people no police no sheriffs. We play 12 to 15 football games a Saturday, no police!" Ingram said.
Coaches warn players to do well in school, or they won't hit the field.
"Many of us who've been at it long enough know it's more than a game," Ingram said. "It can be something that can be used as a tool to build character in young people."
The NCSL holds practice throughout the week at various local parks. The main source of revenue is a $100 fee paid by parents. However, families can sell raffle tickets to get that money back.
"It costs about $85,000 a year to run our program," Ingram said. "We don't receive anything from foundations. We basically raise these dollars ourselves."
 Coaches are non-paid volunteers but the rewards are priceless.
"We get paid everytime we see a smile on a child's face, we get paid everytime we hear from parents that they have seen a major change in their child," Ingram said.