They will likely be nursing aching backs and bruised knees later, but Liberty County law enforcement officers will attempt to take on much younger and more nimble opponents on Saturday, Feb. 20, in the Second Annual Cops Vs. Kids basketball game, held at the Dayton High School gym. Games start at 10 a.m.
Organized by Just Amazing Youth Sports, founded by Dayton resident Jay Matlock, Cops Vs. Kids has two missions – to raise awareness for special-needs children involved in sports and to raise money to help them participate in sports leagues.
“This year we are playing the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. John Coleman, who used to be with Dayton Police Department, now works for the County as a court bailiff, so we asked if he wanted to help us again with the County playing against our special-needs athletes,” Matlock said. “It was approved by the sheriff and we were told, ‘Yeah, let’s go for it.'”
Just Amazing Youth Sports is a new non-profit that Matlock organized in October 2020. Matlock previously participated in Dayton Youth Sports Association but he felt that the special-needs team needed a league of their own.
“We have 20 special-needs kids playing basketball right now. I think we will add another 10-15 kids for baseball season. The program has really expanded over the last year. When I took it over four years ago when it was part of DYSA, I had four kids,” he said.
Matlock believes that special-needs children deserve to have many of the same opportunities to play sports as children without disabilities.
“This gives them a chance to participate among their peers. Some of these kids are home-schooled, so they don’t get a lot of opportunities to interact with other kids except for through some of our activities,” he said.
Saturday’s game is the organization’s biggest fundraiser for the year and Matlock appreciates local law enforcement for their willingness to come out and play the kids in what promises to be a fun, family-friendly event full of laughter and special moments.
For the fans watching the game, food and drinks will be available at the concession stand. In between games, they can browse through the many items that will be available for auction.
Matlock, who operates the largest Houston Astros fan group with Houston Astros Nation on Facebook, is bringing some unique Astros memorabilia to the event.
“One of our biggest sponsors this year is Dugout Mugs. They hollow out the end of baseball bats for their Cheers for Charity. They pick one organization and sponsor them every year. This year they chose us,” Matlock said. “They’ve already donated $1,000 and have sent five of these mugs. Charlie Morton was the pitcher for the Astros at the World Series and he threw out the final pitch. He is going to autograph these mugs and they will be available at the event.”
Admission to the game is $3 per person, paid at the door. Guests are asked to follow COVID-19 guidelines and wear a mask.