The owner of a football training and athletic development facility says he hopes a free football camp for youth taking place in North Preston this weekend will help break down barriers for kids who want to get into the sport.
Micah Brown, the founder of BATLX, which is hosting the camp, said its mission is to make training in football development and mentorship more accessible.
“And by more accessible I also mean breaking down financial barriers for all these athletes,” Brown said. “When I look at some of the athletic programs here, when you talk about the provincial teams or some of these more elite level teams and programs, it’s mostly the kids who can afford it.”
Brown is a former professional football player. After playing professionally in Europe, for the US National team and then in the CFL, Brown moved to Halifax where he played for the Saint Mary’s Huskies.
After retiring in 2017, he and his wife, Kelly, who he met while attending Saint Mary’s, settled in Halifax. It was then that he founded BATLX.
“BATLX was really born out of necessity,” Brown said. “I have two bachelors degrees and a master’s degree and all kind of professional experience. When I came here, I couldn’t get a job. I was going through the immigration process, and it started with me, a football, a band, and a field, and I just started building this thing one athlete at a time. And it’s continued to grow from there.”
Brown who’s originally from New York, but moved to Florida when he was young, said he hadn’t heard of Nova Scotia until he came here. He said he was fascinated by the province’s Black history and Black community connections.
“Being in Florida or even in New York, like when you walk down the street, we don’t really acknowledge any other Black people because it’s just another person to us. But here, everybody kind of knows everybody or is connected some sort of way. There’s that mutual respect. And I think it’s really cool and it’s really awesome and I think it needs to be highlighted.”
In 2020, Brown said he was approached by members of the Black Wellness Cooperative of Nova Scotia about joining that organization. The cooperative got Brown involved in hosting fitness bootcamps in North Preston. Saturday’s football camp is a continuation of that work. Brown has plans to host other free youth camps in other Black communities throughout the province.
“I’m really passionate about this because I was that kid that if I didn’t know how to throw a football, I probably wouldn’t have got recruited to go to university. And if I didn’t go to university, I wasn’t going to graduate, and everything that it’s done for me from that point on,” he said.
“I use football as a tool to be able to develop myself and find out who Micah Brown is and be able to navigate this world. And I use it as a tool to help perpetuate me moving forward.”
Saturday’s free camp takes place from 10am to noon at the Arnold D. Johnson Sports Field in North Preston. The camp is open to kids in grades three to nine. To register, go to www.batlx.com.
Matthew Byard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Halifax Examiner