South Florida youth football league in danger of losing city funding

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — A Deerfield Beach youth football team is in danger of losing its funding from the city.

For 40 years, the Deerfield Packer Rattlers youth football program has been a tradition for children and families in Deerfield Beach. However, the Packer Rattlers may never be able to play ever again.

On Tuesday, city commissioners may vote to fund the McDougal Foundation instead. The foundation, founded by former NFL players, would receive all of the funding that was previously split, and would gain the football field the Packer Rattlers play on.

The President of the Packer Rattlers said the loss of city funding and of the park would be devastating. "You’re talking over 200 to 300 kids each year, for 30 years, come through this program," he said. "We don’t have nowhere to go, nowhere to play, we don’t have anything. This is the only thing that our kids have."

According to city officials, the McDougal Foundation can offer more than just a game. "It’s more than just football," said a city spokeswoman. "It’s football, it’s tutoring, it’s mentoring, it’s life skills courses."

Yet, parents said, 40 years of tradition is a lot to walk away from. "And that would be sad, because the children wouldn’t really understand what went into the blood, the sweat, the tears, that went into founding this association," said a parent.

However, the Packer Rattlers are prepared to do whatever it takes to save their team. "We’re going to fight until the good end," said the president. "We’re going to do whatever it takes to keep our park. Whatever it takes."

The football team can continue to exist, however, without funding or exclusive park access. The vote at Deerfield Beach City Hall is scheduled for Tuesday evening.