WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - The average high school nationally advances about one in ten football players to play at the collegiate level, but for one charter school in D.C. that number is much higher despite not having a home field.
Friendship Collegiate Academy is a charter school on Minnesota Avenue NE that is oft-overlooked for funding and the football program has just enough to survive. That hasn’t quelled the motivation of its players, as about eight out every ten of its student athletes will be be playing college football.
“Mental toughness beyond just physical,” is how their coach, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim describes his players drive. “They can go into games and just be angry at the fact that when we go to home fields and see what other kids are able to play on.”
Friendship Collegiate doesn’t have a field to call their own. In fact, their locker room is a trailer behind the school and their weight room is a classroom in a hallway of the school.
The team would like to apply for a match grant program from the NFL to help build a field, but right now, they don’t even have enough money to buy new helmets.
The NFL Grassroots Field Grant Program is set up to provide high schools in under-served areas of NFL markets improve the quality, safety and accessibility of football fields with financial assistance.
There’s only one problem. The program requires the school to match the NFL’s grant with $200,000 of its own money. The Field Grant Program has awarded more than $32.5 million in field grants over the last fourteen years, but Coach Abdul-Rahim says the only chance Friendship has to get a piece of that assistance is if the right person hears the interview and feels inclined to help.
One Friendship Knight, William Nelson says, “We do need somewhere we can call home.”
Despite the school’s lack of funding, that hasn’t stopped its Knights from excelling on the field. The battle-tested football team won its first three games of the season, including a 21-6 victory against the private St. John’s College High School in Chevy Chase.
Currently ranked 4th in Washington, D.C., the school ranks just outside the Top 500 programs in the country, coming in at 537 on Max Preps rankings.
If you would like to donate to the Friendship Knights football program you can call (202) 396-5500 or reach out through the school’s website here.