Players receiving inspiration before a game. (Submitted photo/Lewis Perkins)
For the last seven weeks, over 130 children from Immokalee and Ave Maria have gathered at the Gary Bates Stadium at the Immokalee High School for the first Flag Football season of Fellowship Sports Ministry. Fellowship Sports Ministry (FSM) is a ministry of First Baptist Church Immokalee that launched in 2017 as a means to serve the community. “Pastor Tim and I wanted to provide a fun, family-friendly environment that would allow us to share biblical values through the love of football,” said Coach Israel Gallegos, Pastor of Sports Outreach at FBC Immokalee. FBC Immokalee has partnered with NFL Flag, which is powered by USA Football, to offer an affordable option for parents and families. With over one thousand leagues, NFL Flag is the largest flag football program in the nation that offers a fun, non-contact football experience for boys and girls ages 5-14 and is the only league in which each child wears official NFL gear. This year, FSM had children playing on the Jaguars, Steelers, Dolphins, Lions, Colts, Ravens, Buccaneers, Saints, Eagles, and Titans. Each different age group competed for a championship: The Ravens won for the 5-6 year olds, the dolphins won for 7-8 year olds, the Titians won for the 9-10 year olds and the Stealers won for the 11-14 year olds. Fellowship Sports Ministry is looking forward to adding soccer and other sports in the near future. “We are still in the planning stages for creating more leagues. We are looking forward to launching soccer and wrestling, with others to follow,” Gallegos said. Along with organized sports leagues, FSM also offers various clinics. There will be a Coaches Clinic on Friday, March 23rd at First Baptist Church Immokalee for any coach desiring to take his calling to the next level. There will also be various football clinics in several locations beginning this summer. Timothy Pigg, Senior Pastor of FBC Immokalee, is looking forward to all of the upcoming events planned through FSM, “We are excited to be offering more programs through Fellowship Sports Ministry which will include the continuation of our Wednesday evening skills-camps, as well as four sports camps this summer.” Playing off the theme, Get in the Game, planning has already begun for Vacation Bible School this June. Along with hearing Bible stories, the children will be a part of a mini sports clinic each night of the week. VBS will be June 3-6 from 6:30-8:30pm at FBC Immokalee. “We hope to be a positive influence in southwest Florida in providing a safe environment for children to play sports, but also hear about God’s love for them,” Gallegos said. For dates and locations for all of the Fellowship Sports Ministry events, visit www.fbcimmokalee.com/sports or contact Coach Gallegos at firstname.lastname@example.org.