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Youth football tournament aims to ‘Stop the Violence’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hundreds of children and parents made their way out to Riverside Park Friday night to kick off the Stop the Violence football tournament.

The games this weekend are in honor of former Warren Central standout Dijon Anderson, who died of injuries sustained in a May shooting. The tournament comes less than a week after Ben Davis High School senior and football player Rondell Allen was injured in a drive-by shooting.

Organizers from the group M.G. Dad’s Club Youth Football League said the hope is to show kids there’s a path forward that doesn’t need to involve violence.

This is the second year this tournament has taken place. Last year, they played in honor of Deandre Knox, a local football player paralyzed from a gunshot wound.

The tournament offers summer nights of fun and play for 16 youth football teams. It’s a time for teams to practice before their seasons kick off. But a message of anti-violence hangs over the weekend.

“We’re trying to do something positive for these young males so they can see that there’s somebody out there for them in their corner,” said Anthony King, one of the organizers, and president of the M.G. Dad’s Club Youth Football League.

King said Allen and Anderson seemed to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he said both of them, along with many of the kids playing in this tournament, have grown up surrounded by this violence.

That’s why showing a path without that violence is so crucial.

Parents say the tournament is great.

“Something for him to do. Something for all the kids to do. And to learn more about football instead of being at home playing games and doing nothing all weekend,” said Nikki Davis, the parent of an 8-year-old playing in the tournament.

And while the kids want to win, they get the message as well.

“I think that kids should play football to stay out of the streets and stay away from drugs and guns and stuff like that,” said Darrelle Watson, a 12-year-old who plays Saturday in the tournament.

The tournament runs through Sunday, when many youths and their parents will hear from Dijon Anderson’s family, who will be honored during halftime of the championship game.

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