IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly 10 years ago the Watts Rams program, which was founded as the Watts Bears, was started by a LAPD officers from the Southeast Division to serve the youth of the community.
"As long as their academics are average or above average, to see these guys just get out there and fulfill their dreams of playing Pop Warner football at this age, it means so much," said Zarren Thompson, LAPD officer and head coach of the Watts Rams.
The student athletes range in age from eight to 14. This year they got to attend Rams Training Camp in Irvine.
The Watts Rams program gives them the opportunity to be coached and mentored and there's also an emphasis on education.
13-year-old Evan Williams said he just finished his last semester with all A's and the Rams are helping him transfer to another school.
"Not only are we focusing on academics and sports, but we're also helping kids that are going down the wrong path," said Williams. "Because in the area we live in a lot of kids may choose to do the wrong thing."
Along with the uniforms and helmets, Coach Thompson said he's thankful for the experiences that the Rams make possible for the young players.
"It's a blessing from heaven to have this type of organization, partner with us, and basically say, 'Hey, you know what, we believe in change in the community, just like you guys do,'" said Thompson.
Thompson said the Rams have provided the players access to training camp, SoFi Stadium and Rams players. They've also provided books and helped send some kids to better schools.
"Every year, we have a goal of winning the Super Bowl and every year we have a goal of winning the Super Bowl off the field," said Molly Higgins, vice president of community affairs and engagement for the Rams. "And that to me is like community impact and really changing life trajectories and the community of kids that need that kind of mentorship, and then that assistance to really kind of determine their pathway to success."
"I feel that you don't have to gang bang or sell drugs to make it out," said Williams. "You can do other things. Not just focus on football, focus on our academics as well."
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