When Niko Koutouvides was playing youth football in Plainville he noticed there were several football camps being hosted by New York Giants players. More than anything, Koutouvides always wanted to attend these camps, but the price tag was just too much.
As a child, and way before he would ever became an NFL linebacker, Koutouvides promised himself that if he ever had the opportunity to host a free football camp, he would do it and he would do it in Plainville.
On Sunday between 10 a.m. and noon, the former New England Patriot will be hosting his 12th annual football camp at Plainville High School. The camp is targeted for ages 7 to 14 and benefits the town’s youth football team, the Plainville Colts.
Koutouvides said hosting the football camp over the last 12 years has been a very gratifying experience.
“The kids really enjoy it,” Koutouvides said. “Each year we can see these kids grow and in the offseason they’re really trying to focus on their craft and get faster.”
Koutouvides was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2004. He also played for the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before finishing his career with the Patriots. He said he hopes his camp and his story inspires the next group of Plainville athletes.
“I try to tell them ‘look, I was standing in those exact same position as you are at one time and in this exact same town,’” he said. ‘“A small town in the state of Connecticut, a blue collar town, and look what I was able to achieve and how far I was able to come. Don’t think that where you live and your status or your skill at your age today has any determination on where you can end up.’”
During the course of the camp, the players go through a series of drills that teaches the fundamentals of football, including how to properly tackle. Toward the end of the day, the campers are split into teams and compete in a relay race. The winning team gets to go to Dick’s Sporting Goods and pick out any pair of cleats they want.
He said the game of football teaches children lifelong values like team work, responsibility and discipline. He said it also allows you to create lifelong bonds.
“First off it’s the ultimate team sport,” he said. “It’s a special group of people that can really play the game of football and excel and when you’re able to achieve that it opens up a number of doors for your future. Over the last few years, there’s never been a more important time in our history where our young kids are being lost in society whether it’s spiritually, social media or video games, so it’s definitely another way to get the kids out of the house, with their peers competing and having a good time.”