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O-Linemen Lead Junior Training Camp

The Oakland Raiders hosted a Junior Training Camp at Curt Flood Field in Oakland. Offensive linemen Khalif Barnes, Menelik Watson, Matt McCants, Tony Bergstrom and Dan Kistler worked and played with the kids for 60 minutes of fun and exercise.

The Raiders, in conjunction with LISC/NFL Foundation and Oakland Parks and Recreation, are helping to build a new field and facility at the Curt Flood location. Monday, a donation was made to get the new Astroturf field project rolling. Tuesday's event was a celebration of the project.

"This community and this field has been in dire need of a new facility for a long time and once this facility is built, it's going to be great for the kids," said Melvin Landry, Oakland Parks and Recreation Youth Sports Supervisor. "It's going to be great for the community. It's going to be a real, real positive thing."



G Khalif Barnes with Raider Rusher. Photo by Tony Gonzales

The five Raiders linemen had a great time spending the afternoon with the kids in Oakland. "They were ecstatic. Their energy, with something as simple as a drill going through a couple of cones and hopping over a couple of mats and going through a ladder drill, it may look simple to some people, but to them you can look in their face and some are real intense, they're happy about it," said veteran G Khalif Barnes. "I step in front of them and try to play like I'm a linebacker and they spin off me and it just gives them so much excitement. That's all it takes, something that small to give them that much excitement, there's really nothing else in the world like that."

T Menelik Watson brought the fun and intensity to his drills. "They loved it. Football is fun. It's a unique sport so I just try to bring a little bit of what we get in practice, brought some intensity, had them do some consequences if kids tripped on some hurdles they had to give me pushups," said Watson. "They loved it and they had a great time and I did too. I even broke a sweat out here."

Besides the enjoyment of playing and meeting the players, the Raiders wanted to make sure the kids understood the importance of being active on a daily basis. "We just want to come out and exercise with the kids a little bit," said Barnes. "I think it's important nowadays…in our generation, they have too many game systems and too many ways to stay in the house and too many ways to get fat and unhealthy. If you start too early, it creates a whole bunch of problems when they get older, so they need to get outside and play a little bit. If it's 60 minutes, cool. Just do something active that promotes good health, good brain stimulation. It's good to stay healthy so we're glad to be a part of that."


Game faces. Photo by Tony Gonzales

Director of Oakland Parks and Recreation, Audrey Jones-Taylor, was grateful for the focus on that message. "One of the things that I continue to say all the time with Oakland Parks and Recreation, we play with a purpose and our purpose is to expose, empower, to enlighten and to encourage educational excellence through recreational services," said Jones-Taylor. "To see these kids out here really active and involved and not only involved and active, but having fun at it, means a whole lot. It sets a tone for not only how they are today, but how they're going to live the rest of their lives."

The players and kids had a great time running around on the field. Just showing up at the park gives the students something to remember. "If I can reach out to one kid and he can remember that in high school or college and he looks back and says, 'I remember that one time we had a couple of Raiders out and I remember the fun we had,' if you can remember that at any point in his life like I had when I was younger, it's worth it."

"It was amazing. I had a great time," added Watson. "I wish it was going on longer actually. It was fun to see the energy. For a long time I've wanted to get out in the community of Oakland and show face and give back. It's big for me and also big for the kids around here that they get an opportunity to get close to us."

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