By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9
Oklahoma City Police are using sports to connect with area children. They said it's a good way to get through to them, while having some fun.
While out of their usual uniform, the officers were teaching the children how to play soccer, but more importantly, they were coaching the young players on life.
"We want them to be leaders in their communities," Master Sgt. Keith Simonds said. "We want them to be successful in their sports."
Officers with the Police Athletic League host the free soccer clinic every year, along with collegiate level players to help in the training. It's an opportunity for the unit to keep children busy while school is out for the summer.
"Right here in this area, here on the south side, is high intensity of gang membership," Sgt. Charles Ramsey said.
"That's what we're fighting against. We're trying to keep kids on soccer teams and away from gangs."
With the few days they've been supervising from the sidelines, the officers are hearing that the kids are taking the right message away.
"They say that we need to stay out of gang and stuff," 12-year-old Rayann Rodriguez said. "You don't want to go to jail or anything."
10-year-old Jesus Lopez said he's dreaming big about becoming a famous soccer player, and knows how to reach his goal.
"Work hard, get good grades in school," Lopez said.
The officers on the Police Athletic League are committed to reducing crimes through programs like the soccer clinic. They also offer basketball and baseball clinics to the youth.
To find out more about the Police Athletic League, click here.