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Black boy joy: Flag football team ranked #1 in Minnesota, headed to World Championship in Florida

Minnesota Venom is a free competitive flag football program founded and run by Black men, most of them fathers. Mack Phillips (Coach Mack) moved across the street from Central Village Park in St. Paul two years ago. The park was widely underutilized by the community. That changed, though, when Mack and his three sons started visiting the football field regularly.

Because there were no inner-city training programs and those in the suburbs cost a lot of money, Mack and another dad/coach, Tavaris Clinton, formed MN Venom in 2021, and Central Village Park became their home field and training facility.

Since they started training at the park, it’s like others felt the park was safe again,” said Mercedes Yarborough, Mack’s fiancé. “Now other people and programs go there to play, practice, and just have a good time—something we didn’t see before.”

The team has won five national tournaments and are currently ranked 1st in the nation. In January, the Venom have a chance to represent Minnesota at the World Championship tournament in Orlando, Fl.

We're going to play kids from all over the world in a different atmosphere,” said Coach Mack. “It's going to be good to get away from this Minnesota cold weather.”

The team is trying to raise $7,500 to cover travel expenses. Never ones to shy away from hard work, the boys hosted a donation-based Halloween event for the community. Check it out!

One thing is for sure: there will be plenty of dads in the bleachers and on the sidelines cheering on their sons. “We're just a group of men who wants to see these kids thrive,” said Coach Mack. “And I want to tell the men out there that they're doing a good job. They might not hear it all the time, but they deserve to. Good job.”

If you want to help the boys travel to Florida for the tournament, visit their GoFundMe.

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