Tonga Attends Gatorade Junior Training Camp

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Raiders FB Manase Tonga (41) helps conduct a Gatorade Junior Training Camp at John M. Blacow Elementary School in Fremont, Calif.

Recently, Oakland Raiders FB Manase Tonga visited the students of John M. Blacow Elementary School in Fremont, Calif., and helped conduct a Gatorade Junior Training Camp.

The Gatorade Junior Training Camp program offers the educational and recreational benefits of football presented in a safe and enjoyable environment. These one-day clinics encourage students to be active and to learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle in order to develop both strong bodies and minds.

Roughly 100 students from the fifth and sixth grade levels were able to participate in the Gatorade Junior Training Camp. Tonga acted as the coach for the boys and girls participating in the clinic. "It was the opportunity of a lifetime for our students," said Blacow Principal Angela Morariu. The students were excited to be able to spend time with the Raiders fullback.

Tonga, an undrafted free agent who is currently on the Raiders practice squad, wanted to reinforce to the students that having fun and working hard can go hand-in-hand. "Mostly, what I would want them to take from this is just to have fun and just to go after the things that you want but always to remember where you started," said Tonga. "Always remember where everything came from."

Tonga was just as excited as the students to take part in the clinic's activities. "My favorite part about today was seeing how much fun the kids were having and also getting tackled," said Tonga after taking a few hard hits.

After breaking a sweat, the kids were able to ask Tonga about fulfilling his dream of playing professional football. "There were a lot of kids there who would ask me 'When did you start playing football?' or 'When did you love playing football?' and I told them it was around your age," said Tonga. "And a lot of them got excited because they can sort of put themselves in my shoes and say well 'this is how he did it' and I can do it the same way."

Principal Morariu was thrilled with the success of the camp and looks forward to having more students involved in years to come. "I think it's important for the kids to live a healthy lifestyle and an active lifestyle and Gatorade training camp really promotes that," said Morariu.

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