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Since it was launched in the late 1970s, the Detroit Police Athletic League – or PAL for short – has brought organized athletic programs to parks and sports facilities throughout Detroit. Around 11,000 kids each year get access to 11 sports including baseball, softball, track and field, golf and soccer.
The heavy hitters are football and cheerleading, which are Detroit PAL's most popular programs – attracting about 2,400 boys and 1,000 girls each season. Those sports also have the highest adult-to-kid ratio, says Dewayne Jones, Detroit PAL's athletic director. The season typically runs late June through mid-November; registration begins around mid-May.
For both football and soccer (which runs from about late-April to mid-June), some coaches will arrange drop-in opportunities so kids can see what the sport is all about "in a way that's not so frightening," Jones says. Simply get in touch with Detroit PAL to get the ball rolling.
Got girls? Since 2013, Detroit PAL's initiative aims to get more girls involved with sports while encouraging healthy self-esteem and body image. Confidence and leadership/etiquette training and empowerment activities are some of the events it's planning (check ahead for the latest). In the meantime, explore plenty of girls sport programs for ages 4-19, from track to softball.
Volunteers are welcome, too! Detroit PAL's team of volunteer coaches are trained in role modeling and using sports as a gateway to character building. Interested adults are encouraged to call for details on volunteer openings/training times. Got a high school-age sports enthusiast? He or she might make a great "junior coach."
Detroit PAL encourages parents to let their kids try a variety of extracurricular activities – whether that's sports, music, art or something else – to discover their personal passion.
"We try and provide some of those opportunities," Jones says. "You never know where your kid's talents or where your kid's interests may lie, and if the kid doesn't have the chance to try it, we may never know."