PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–One of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League’s more popular and successful programs ended for the season in East Falls Thursday night.
But the final scores pale in comparison to what the program does for the participants.
“We try as Philadelphia Police officers not just to coach our kids but to mentor our kids and try to give them a great, positive environment so they can grow in and feel safe,” explains PAL Sergeant Eric Ervin.
He coordinates the Fitz Dixon Citywide Basketball League:
“From Northeast to Southwest Philly each officer gets a team of kids that represent their PAL center, similar to the NCAA Tournament.”
16-year-old Brandon Pierce was one of many teens who get involved for reasons beyond shooting hoops:
“It’s just about bringing the community together and it keeps us off the streets and that’s what helps us. And it’s a good program for all kids, all ages.”
He represented Germantown PAL in the 16 and under title game. Their opponents were 16-year-old Aaron Whaley and Francisville PAL
“Everybody is staying out of trouble, everybody just wants to have fun. Everybody sticks together,” he says.
Whaley’s teammate, 15-year-old Jihad Saunders, couldn’t agree more:
“It’s good people to be around. I learned a lot of things from different guys. A lot of positivity.”
The other championship game was the 14 and under one. Both were played at Philadelphia University to give everyone a chance to play in a college atmosphere.