Homewood County Sports, a nonprofit organization based in Homewood, Pittsburgh, is dedicated to helping children and teenagers succeed both on and off the field. The organization, which has been around since the 1950s, is run entirely by volunteers who are motivated by the goal of promoting sports and preventing violence among youth. Mubarik Ismaeli, known as “Coach Mu,” took over as the president and executive director of Homewood Community Sports almost a decade ago, with the aim of giving back to the community that supported him during his youth. The organization offers a variety of sports, including football, cheerleading, rugby, wrestling, and track and field, and currently serves around 260 kids between the ages of 5 and 14.
Coach Mu and his team of coaches believe that sports can teach children valuable life skills such as teamwork, conflict resolution, and the importance of being a part of something greater than oneself. By participating in sports, kids gain important characteristics and qualities that can benefit them in various aspects of life. The organization aims to provide a safe and supportive environment for kids to learn and grow, so they can have a positive and disciplined upbringing, even in challenging circumstances.
One of the goals of Homewood Community Sports is to prevent violence among youth. The organization has been dedicating its efforts to 12-year-old Denzel Nowlin Junior, who tragically lost his life due to gun violence in the neighborhood. The coaches wear many hats and serve as mentors, babysitters, nurses, and teachers to the kids. They also collaborate with schools to provide additional academic support to children who may be struggling. The organization believes that by being actively involved with the kids, they can see improvements in their behavior at home, in school, and within the community.
Homewood Community Sports also plays a crucial role in promoting community engagement and unity. The organization serves as a safe gathering place where families can come together to support the kids participating in sports. Coach Mu describes Homewood as a mecca where people know they can find safety and enjoy the company of multiple generations of families during game days. The organization has plans to renovate their field and hopes to add more sports like soccer and lacrosse in the future. Their efforts have been supported by the community, and once someone joins the Homewood family, they become a part of it forever.
Despite the challenges Coach Mu and his team face, their motivation remains strong, driven by the smiles and excitement of the kids they work with. The organization has already started their football season, with their biggest game against their rivals in the Hill District approaching. They expect a large turnout for this game. During the field renovation, the organization will temporarily practice at Westinghouse Park and hold game days at the field at Westinghouse High School.
Homewood Community Sports accepts donations to support their activities, and even small gestures like bringing water or donuts to the kids during practices can make a difference. Those interested in getting their children involved in the organization can reach out to them directly. Additionally, if there are other organizations that deserve recognition, KDKA’s Sunday Spotlight segment invites suggestions from the community.