By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jul 08, 2015 at 11:04 AM

Almost by mistake last summer, I found myself driving through Lincoln Park, where I saw a bunch of kids in full uniform on a football field, so I stopped to see what was going on.

Two teams of kids, probably around 10 years old, were playing football. There were parents on the sidelines, cheerleaders, coaches and kids who actually looked like they knew what they were doing.

It was the Neighborhood Children’s Sports League, a 60-year-old organization that this year is going to provide football for more than 1,000 kids ages 6-14.

I never thought much about it, even though everyone seemed so serious about it. Until this week, however, when someone stole a trailer and uniforms of one of the teams, the Milwaukee Buccaneers.

The theft took place about two weeks ago and most of the uniforms were found in a vacant lot on Saturday after Earl Ingram Jr., who runs the league, got an anonymous phone call.

"We got most of them," Ingram said. "But we’ll get the rest. People will step up."

Ingram is 61 years old and spent 34 years at A. O. Smith and is truly a man on a mission.

"We are the oldest continuously operating urban sports league in the country," he said during a phone call Tuesday. "We’ve been around for 57 years and I’ve been the president for 18.

"We’ve got 800 boys and 300 girls this year. The boys play and the girls are cheerleaders. Everyone has a uniform. And it’s all volunteers."

The Buccaneers raised the $4,500 to buy the trailer through bake sales and car washes and holding out their hands. It’s donations fundraising that keeps this league going.

"This is not just about football," Ingram said. "Football is our tool to help these kids develop character."

It costs $100 to join the league but, said Ingram, "we never have and never will turn anyone down because they can’t pay the fee. These are children who live in a war zone. They are growing up in a war zone."

Ingram calls the league a "rite of passage for these kids. We have kids all over the country playing football in college now."

This is one of those things that just brings a smile to your face. These little Donald Drivers and Aaron Rodgers and Leroy Butlers are fun to watch on a Saturday afternoon in the fall.

If you are of a mind to make a contribution, Ingram says just give him a call at (414) 507-5642 or click here

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.