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Rashod Bateman hosts the first annual youth soccer camp

TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) – Every player who makes it to the National Football League has a different path, and on Friday, kids got to see firsthand what it looks like when a dream becomes a reality.

Tifton native Rashod Bateman was back in South Georgia where he began his journey of providing coaching, motivation and, most importantly, fun to a new generation of dreamers. Well over 150 kids came to Tift County High School for Bateman's first youth football camp.

The young athletes completed a series of drills while being coached by current Blue Devils players, coaches and, of course, Bateman himself. The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver participated in the drills and said “He needed the training before he could leave for camp.” Today it was all about giving something back to the community.

“It definitely means a lot to me. Everyone knows me, knows where I come from, knows how special my hometown is to me. I wasn't injured, so I had my first full offseason. It was nice to be able to return to the community and give something back,” said Bateman.

Tifton wasn't the only representative at the camp. Kids from Perry, Cordele and many other places in south Georgia came to learn from the former Minnesota Gopher.

“It just shows that people in South Georgia still dream. I feel like it's hard for us down here to still dream, considering where we come from. Having a role model like me or someone like Tyreek Hill come here and host a camp gives these kids the opportunity to know that they have the power to do the same thing.” He continued: “I'm sure the reason I am the way I am is because of the people I look up to. That's how it always starts, so I want to be the same role model for them.”

Bateman's message to the kids is powerful: he reminds them that while football is an opportunity, it is not the only dream they should pursue. He reminds each of them what it takes to be successful in all areas of life.

“I got to where I am today because I was disciplined. I listened to my mom, my coaches, teachers, staff. I was by no means perfect. I don't know where my mom is, but I always got into a lot of trouble. I don't want you guys to think you have to be perfect in this life. You don't have to be football players. Enjoy this camp, but know that you will live to make your own decisions. You can be successful in life in other ways besides football.”

There was a great atmosphere out there and the children had a lot of fun.

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