Skip to main content
Website header - Chicago
Advertising

ChicagoBears.com | The Official Website of the Chicago Bears

Community News

Bears, Mini Monsters clinics take second annual trip to United Kingdom

minimonsters-071323

For the second year in a row, the Chicago Bears brought their Mini Monsters clinics to the United Kingdom. The tour, which spanned from June 20 – June 30 and landed in six different cities, reached over 2,000 children ages 7-12 from 50 schools.

Bringing American football to international markets is an ongoing priority for the Bears as they aim to introduce the sport to children and provide them with new opportunities.

The Mini Monsters clinics use 90-minute sessions with non-contact football drills to teach the youth fundamentals of the sport while promoting the importance of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.

"It was rewarding to be back in the UK for year two," Gustavo Silva, Bears manager of youth football and community programs, said. "It was great to witness the demand and excitement for American football grow in just one year. The clinics were bigger with more kids and the demand for the clinics was greater as well."

The Bears brought their clinics to London, Cambridge and Manchester for a second year then toured three new cities which included Edinburgh, Liverpool and Exeter.

Bears receiver Chase Claypool traveled to London to help with the June 27 and 28 Mini Monster Clinics, teaching football to more than 400 kids.

Claypool said he was happy to see "all the kids flying around, doing football drills," and was excited about how interactive and passionate they were. He even gained a new fanbase as many of the kids told him they'd be tuning into Bears games to watch him play.

"Coming out to these events can really change the trajectory of someone's life," Claypool said. "I know if these camps were never around then I wouldn't be where I'm at today because I started doing these little camps. I had the t-shirt, got it signed by everybody, I did all of that. So it's super cool to do all of it now."

Claypool – a Global Flag Football Ambassador – has a personal tie to the Bears' international initiatives as he was raised in British Columbia, Canada and found minimal opportunities to learn and play American football.

"Being from Canada or any other country other than America, there's not as much opportunity for different people [to play football]," Claypool said. "So to be able to do this internationally and bring more opportunity to a place is important because some kids might not know they're super talented and they might never get that opportunity unless we do stuff like this."

One of the volunteers at the London clinics, Delta Npuna - who plays American football for the London Warriors – also shared her experience with learning and growing a passion for the sport.

Npuna's introduction to American football was Super Bowl XLIX (Patriots vs. Seahawks). A 17-year-old at the time, she watched the game with her brother who was interested in the sport. As the game went down to the wire – a late Patriots interception leading to a game-winning touchdown led by Tom Brady – Npuna's love for the sport blossomed.

"Russell Wilson threw it on the 1-yard line instead of handing it [off] to Marshawn Lynch," Npuna said. "And there was so much excitement, and everyone was buzzing and I was buzzing. I was like, 'this is the greatest thing ever.' I went to school the next day like bragging to my friends about it, like 'oh my gosh guys, this is amazing. I want to do it.' And everyone laughed at me.

"So I took it as a personal challenge, like, 'what? You think I can't play this sport?' I found a team on Google and joined that same weekend and eight years after, here I am."

Npuna commends the Bears' commitment to growing the game and "engaging the next generation of players," adding those values have made her a fan of the organization. 

When she started playing football in 2015, Npuna had to teach herself the sport's fundamentals and learn just by playing as camps like Mini Monsters weren't typically found in the UK.

"It's really amazing that the Bears have put so much time, effort and resources into getting the next generation of players interested," Npuna said. "You've gotta get them while they're young and while they're interested and enthusiastic.

"These kids have been great. They came with so much energy. Chase Claypool was here, and they loved him. There was just an abundance of energy today and it was exactly what the sport needs as a whole and also in this country."

Npuna not only "appreciated the [number] of girls" that attended the Mini Monsters clinic, but the overall diversity in gender and race of the participants. She was also pleased to see the clinic's ability to be inclusive of children with disabilities, noting "inclusivity is one of my favorite things about the sport."

Former Bears tight end Kaseem Sinceno, who helped run Mini Monster clinics in London, Cambridge and Exeter, said one of the most memorable moments was helping a young girl who uses a wheelchair participate in the drills.

"We tailored the drills to her, and she got a lot of cheers and applause," Sinceno said. "At the end, she was one of our special award winners. It tells you that anybody can participate. We try to reach everybody in every demographic. Play 60 is for everybody. Good health is for everybody. So that's what we're promoting here."

The Bears have already received a plethora of positive responses from schools, volunteers and participants that were involved in the clinics, all of which express eagerness for a third Mini Monsters tour in the UK.

"The common theme is 'we want you to come back,'" Silva said. "The kids and community organizers appreciate our presence and always invite us to return. Another common question is, 'What's next? How do we continue?'"

Receiver Chase Claypool and England Rugby legend Ugo Monye joined children in London for a 90-minute clinic which is designed to inspire and encourage more kids to pick up an American Football for the first time. This was one of the six-city tour stops which saw the Bears, along with alumni Shaun Gayle and Kasseem Sinceno, travel across the United Kingdom and reach approximately 2,000 children from over 50 schools. Mini Monsters clinics, brought to you by United Airlines, provide free youth coaching for boys and girls between the ages of 7-12 and stress the importance of healthy eating, physical activity and proper hydration through fun, non-contact American football drills helping young people to build confidence through access to a new sport.

Related Content

Advertising
Advertising