GLEN ALLEN, Va. -- After over two decades of coaching youth football, Royal Cousins believes that you can take the tackle out of tackle football.
"I think you can be successful without having 30 tackle football games a year," Cousins said.
Last year when COVID-19 protocols prohibited most football practices due to social distancing, Cousins saw an opportunity to grow his 7-on-7 tournaments where youth players play without linemen and work on the skill areas of the game.
Earlier this month, his Gridiron Select Events hed a tournament at Glover Park in Glen Allen. Over 300 kids competed in several different divisions.
"We're trying to carve in this niche to get people to understand that you don't have to play tackle football year round to be successful or competitive," Cousins said.
Each player paid an entry fee to play, which can make tournaments like this quite lucrative. However, Cousins didn't see it like that.
"Being able to give back to my community," Cousins said. "That's my number one goal. To be able to host events in our community and be able to give back right here in our community versus someone who comes here, hosts an event and then leaves and doesn't donate to the community."
By day, Cousins runs his own courier service, delivering items all over Virginia. On his time off, he's still delivering.
Cousins took the proceeds from his latest Glover Park tournament and made a donation to portable, the Richmond adaptive sports club that helps athletes with physical and mental challenges.
"We had great conversations with Sportable about what they do for the community," Cousins said.
The donation came out to just over $4,000.
"Four thousand dollars will cover a lot of coaching stipends, it covers a lot of facility fees. It really is the resource that makes our work possible," Hunter Leemon said. "It's a big deal for us."
Leemon is the executive director at Sportable. He's known Cousins for only six months, but is already one of his biggest fans.
"He'll go out of his way to help you or help the cause. I've been blown away by his generosity but also his caring. He genuinely cares about our athletes, our work, our mission," Leemon said.
When he started, Cousins and his son just delivered snacks and drinks last year to teachers at 10 different area schools. This year alone, they have donated nearly $9,000 to schools, Sportable and Girls For A Change, an organization that seeks to empower young women to create social change projects to tackle issues in their neighborhood.
"As long as they're going to do something good with the money, that's all that matters," Cousins said.
Cousins does all this because as a young man, his community center in the upper West Side on Manhattan was his haven. He'd like to help organizations in the Richmond area do some of the same things and teach his sons about giving back to the community.
"When we started this, I wasn't sure about it because I hadn't known a lot. But showing him giving back to your community is a really helpful thing," Cousins' son said.
"My way of giving back, teaching him that he needs to be able to give back. Whether it's your time, whether it's money, whether it's whatever. Just being able to help people," Cousins said.
"He's always trying to figure out a way that he can lend value to you as opposed to figuring out a way that he can help himself. Those people are really special," Leemon said.
Cousins will hold two more 7-on-7 events in June and August and is looking into holding camps for linemen as well. He's also busy canvassing potential charitable donations to be made from the proceeds of those events.
You can find more information by visiting his Facebook page.