January 28, 2010

USA Football gets generous donations

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USA Football, the nation's governing body on youth level football, is just days away from showcasing its "USA versus The World" game.

On Wednesday, the association gained three new partners - two of which will be featured during the upcoming game.

The Andrews Institute for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine as well as Reebok have signed on to partner for the "USA versus the World," and Lofa Tatupu, a linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, announced a donation of $10,000 towards establishing youth football in American Samoa.

"Having partners like the Andrews Institute and Reebok work with us in staging the 'Team USA vs. The World' game further exemplifies the significance of Saturday's matchup," Steve Alic, the spokesperson for USA Football said. "The excitement and passion that we as Americans associate with football is not exclusive to the States."

The Andrews Institute will supply the athletic training and medical care for both the USA Football Junior National Team as well as the World team during the week of practice and during the game.

The institute, located in Pensacola, Fla., opened in 2007 and was founded by renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

"The Andrews Institute for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is proud to be the official sports medicine provider for USA Football," Dr. Andrews said. "We are proud to support the 'Team USA versus The World' game and look forward to providing this same service at future events."

Reebok, a global sporting goods brand, will provide the cleats and shoes for the game's players, coaches, and officials.

The partnership with Reebok is a historic one as it is the first time the two organizations have reached an agreement in partnering on an event.

Tatupu, whose father Mosi Tatupu also played in the NFL, donated $10,000 to start a youth football program in his native American Samoa.

American Samoa is an island comprised of 77 square mile and 65,000 citizens. The success of American Samoan football players is well documented as there are both more than 30 NFL players and 200 players of Samoan descent playing Division I level football.

The island nation is most known for producing physical lineman and the six high schools on the island have produced 10 NFL linemen in just the past five years.

"There is a strong sense of togetherness, respect for others, sacrificing for the good of the family, and teamwork woven into American Samoan life," Lofa Tatupu said. "These are the very same values found in successful people and winning football programs."

A study has estimated that a boy born to Samoan parents is 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than one born in the United States.

It is that starting point that excites Tatupu.

"These kids deserve a shot, an opportunity," he said. "I thank USA Football and everyone who has had a hand in helping American Samoa's kids enjoy this sport in an exciting way that they've not experienced before this year."

USA Football has joined in the financial support and alongside Riddell, youth football will be played by youth ages 11 to 14 on the island territory for the first time.

"Lofa Tatupu's generosity will impact lives in American Samoa through the world's greatest sport," Alic said. "His selfless donation makes the game safer and more enjoyable for American Samoan youngsters and will continue to do so for years to come."

The gift will be presented by Tatupu's father to USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck prior to the "Team USA versus The World" game on Saturday.

The game will feature 90 of the world's best high school-aged players from four continents and will air live on NFL Network at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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