When semi-pro football was created in southern Ohio, it had little to do with the action on the gridiron and more to do with the impact on the community — at least in the eyes of Spartan offensive lineman Matt Owens.
One of the main reasons the former East Tartan decided to play for the Southern Ohio Spartans was to maximize his impact on today’s generation, trying to keep kids off the streets.
“It gives them an avenue to be creative and to do better without dealing with the bad side of society,” Owens said. “That’s always been our first and foremost goal. Instead of someone who might do crime, this gives them an option to join a family. We are going to be there for you. We are going to try to get you to where you need to be, outside of football and inside football.”
Owens, who is an union iron worker by trade, has two young kids. Through his parenting skills, he has attempted to provide a strong foundation for them like he has for many kids in Scioto County.
“I try to show them leaderships skills. I try to show them that they can do good. I try to lay the ground work,” Owens said.
Owens said the Spartans are trying to organize football camps, which would kick off next year. He believes the benefit of those camps would help many kids learn the vital lessons he has tried to teach his own family.
“One week of playing football with a kid might click in his head that he might want to do this when he’s older,” Owens said. “This can build his character. This can give him leadership skills. It’ll help him for what he wants to do in life.”
Aside from the future camps, Owens said the Spartans are involved in numerous other charitable projects.
“We’re trying to do a lot of charity work, bringing in charities,” Owens said. “We clean the parks around town. We try to get the community involved.”
The first-year Spartan isn’t sure how long he will play the game but he plans on continuing to make an impact in the community well after he hangs up his cleats.
“I will play until my body tells me I can’t,” Owens said. “I am an iron worker. That takes a lot out of a person doing that kind of work. I will play until I can’t, and then once that happens, I will step off to the side and still be there for the community. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a part of the Spartans. It just might be changing positions.”
Owens is interested in possibly coaching or joining the marketing department with the Spartans, so he can continue to deliver his message.
“I really want to get the word out about what we are all about and what we want to establish,” Owens said.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.