A former football player has started a flag football camp in Logan Square in the hopes of increasing Latino participation in sports
SQUARE LOGAN — A former football player who was inducted into the Mexico Football Hall of Fame is hosting a football youth camp in Logan Square to provide a positive outlet for local kids.
In mid-April, Omar Urea Jimenez, a football journalist who played in college and on a semipro team in Mexico, will carry his Chicago Tochito Academy program to the Windy City Fieldhouse at 2367 W. Logan Blvd.
Over the course of seven weeks, kids can learn the basics of flag football and sports journalism at the camp. Jimenez will be the coach, but he has enlisted the support of friends — a former player and a coach — through Zoom.
Jimenez is searching for boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 13. The expense of the camp for the whole season is $320. He’s even giving two boys and two girls scholarships. The scholarships are for children whose parents are illegal immigrants who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The deadline for scholarship tryouts is May 5.
For Jimenez, who has spent the past few years working in the hospitality industry, Chicago Tochito Academy is a dream come true.
Before the pandemic, Jimenez worked as a security guard at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, but he was laid off. He worked as a doorman at Big Star and Park & Field before that.
Jimenez founded the Chicago Restaurant Flag Football League while employed as a doorman, building on his many years of experience playing and writing about football. The league, which was made up of local restaurant and bar staff, grew in popularity quickly, with around 90 players at one point.
Jimenez, on the other hand, said he’s always wanted to create a flag football program for youth. He said he came up with the idea nearly 20 years ago as a way to help kids escape the neighborhood’s gun violence, but the project never got off the ground for different reasons.
“I was very worried about the news, about teenagers who had died, about all of the gang issues, and all of that,” he said.
Now, Jimenez is launching the initiative — in his own neighborhood, no less — after winning a deal with the Logan Square sports complex.
He said, “I feel like everything I’ve done in my life has led me to this point.” “Now is the time for me to pass on my skills to the next generation so that they can practice the sport.”
Jimenez first became interested in football when he saw his father play for the Polytechnic Cheyennes.
From 1992 to 1996, Jimenez was an offensive guard for the University of Mexico Condors, and from 2006 to 2008, he was an offensive line and tackle for Mexico’s Horda Dorada team. He was chosen to play in the Classic Bowl three times while with the Condors. In 2015, he was inducted into Mexico’s Football Hall of Fame.
Jimenez has been hosting a football radio show on Lumpen Radio, WLPN LP 105.5 FM, since 2017. In addition, he is the founder of Graficosports.com.
Jimenez, who works as a sports writer, has noted that there aren’t many Latino kids on college teams in the United States. With this initiative, he hopes to change that.
“My ultimate goal with this project is to see students from my academy earn scholarships to play college football in Mexico or the United States,” he said, later adding, “I can’t wait to see kids… launch their own legacy.”