The sounds of a thumping soccer ball, parents cheering and coaches shouting both instruction and encouragement are all-too-common on Saturday mornings across the country.
What makes the games played at C.C. Spaulding Elementary this weekend different is what happens after the whistle blows, the juice boxes are downed and the kids go home.
"One of our officers was out on patrol, and he happens to coach the soccer team that has a lot of kids in that neighborhood," said Offier Erwin Baker of the Durham Police Athletic League, one of the co-organizers of the league.
"He saw a bunch of young people gathered around. Most of the time, he'd be met with a cold shoulder. But this time, one of the parents came out and said, 'That's my son's soccer coach. He's OK.'"
Because police officers help out with coaching, it allows the players, as well as their parents and older siblings, to see the police as friends instead of foes.
The free soccer league, as well as the baseball and basketball programs co-run by PAL and DBYAL, have 500 participants altogether. That's 500 kids who not only will be more likely to reach out to a police officer if they need help, but also 500 kids that now have a positive activity to enjoy.
And they do enjoy it. Players representing Holt and Club Boulevard elementary schools houted at each other excitedly as the ball made its way from one end of the field to the other. Squeals and hugs followed the goals. (Herb Sellers, DBYAL chairman, said the league doesn't keep score, but that doesn't prevent the teams themselves from doing so.)
The eight other participating schools are: Burton, C.C. Spaulding, Eastway, Merrick Moore, Morehead, R.N. Harris, W.G. Pearson, and YE Smith.
This Saturday will mark the last game of the season, which will be followed by a celebratory pizza party.
See our slideshow for pics of last Saturday's match, and some of the good people who made it happen.