RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It’s not every day you get a shot a national youth football title, but one local youth football team is getting their shot to do just that all the way in Los Angeles.
It’s called the “Snoop Dogg Football League Nationals,” from Dec. 14-16.
It was started by the famous entertainer in 2005 in Southern California.
After winning their local championship against the Powhatan Chiefs, the Vikings earned a ticket to the City of Angels to compete in in the West Coast competition.
Four other youth leagues, including the RVA Skins and 8-year-old youth division, the 10U Vipers, and King William, a 12U team, will be joining the 14U Vikings in the competition.
Thursday night, the Battery Park football youth league braved frigid temperatures in one of their last practices before the head westward.
They practice every week like this not just for the love of competition, but also for a chance at a national title too.
“We have to put the city and the East Coast on our backs,” said Vikings captain Nasir Eberhardt.
Aretha Lewis is one of the assistant coaches with the Youth league.
Lewis said their accomplishment is impressive considering there are many external factors that keep kids from staying with youth football during their age-eligible years.
“A lot of kids come and go, grow up or age out , but for these kids being 13-14 years old, I think it’s an awesome opportunity and they’ve worked hard to get to this point,” said Lewis.
“Football is the only thing that I do," team captain Timothy Hicks said.
“It’s my way out of the city,” added Eberhardt.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In fact, it’s the first time many of these players will have flown on a plane or even left Richmond.
But opportunities this rare don’t come cheap. Most of the players' families wouldn’t be able to afford to send their kids to L.A. let alone give them proper food or housing while they stayed.
To help make the trip possible, the city of Richmond has partnered with the nonprofit “Excel to Excellent” founded by Richmond-native and NFL football star and Super Bowl champion Michael Robinson.
So far they’ve raised nearly $200,000 for the trip, but the team needs help there raising the extra funds to get them the rest of the way their in addition to raising more money for food, housing and equipment.
“The average cost to get to California is probably about $1,000 so think about taking 180 children, plus coaches and parents,” said Cara Presley with Excel to Excellence.
To offset the remaining traveling costs the team has set up an online fundraiser through a crowdfunding website.
Still coaches and players say nothing will keep these boys from a national title and bragging rights for a city that’s given so much too them.
“Losing is not in my vocabulary,” said Eberhardt “I expect to go out there to California and win.”
The Vikings plan to leave for L.A. on Dec. 11.
If you would like to support the Vikings before they head for L.A. you can do so here.