When retired Air Force master sergeant Felix Agosto Sr. wanted to create a sports league for kids of all athletic abilities, the inspiration was right under his own roof.
The New Jersey dad calls his son, Felix Jr., 14, a "miracle baby" who survived after being born prematurely at 24 weeks and weighing just 1 pound, 7 ounces at birth. While Felix Jr. wasn't the greatest athlete growing up — his passion is photography — he was involved in an athletic program on a military base during Felix Sr.'s career.
But when Felix Sr., 42, retired from the Air Force, he felt there weren't enough options for kids like Felix Jr. — those who might want to be part of a sports team but weren't necessarily top athletes. That's when he came up with a non-profit flag football program in Philadelphia called MVP360 for kids of all abilities.
"It's hard to put into words what keeps me going,'' Felix Sr. said on TODAY Friday. "At the end of the day, nobody leaves feeling as if they didn't accomplish something, and that's something that has gone away from sports with the pressure of travel teams and rejection of the kids who can't really play.
"We are like the last line of defense when it comes to reaching someone who is not athletically gifted. I feel like I am making a difference."
Felix Sr., whose story is the latest installment of TODAY's "Together We Make Football" series with the NFL, also found that the league brought him closer to his son. Felix Jr. photographs the games to help support MVP360.
"This is kind of the base for our relationship, you know,'' Felix Jr. said. "It's kind of started a new age of understanding with each other. I'm definitely proud of him, like seeing how he makes a difference in peoples' lives."
"If he didn't have this league, I don't know if they would be as close as they are now,'' wife and mom Jessica Agosto said.
About 80 percent of the kids who participate are Latino.
"We're creating a whole new generation of football fans in the Latino community,'' Felix Sr. said.
The league also stresses that parents should not just drop off their kids at the games and leave. They are all urged to stay and cheer them on.
"This league doesn't care about winning or losing,'' Geoff Wilson, the parent of a player, told TODAY. "They care about growth and development of the children."
Felix Sr.'s dedication to the non-profit MVP360 organization and his work with youth football players earned him a surprise visit from Hall of Fame offensive lineman Anthony Munoz, who starred for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1980-92, and his son, Michael Munoz, a former All-American offensive lineman at the University of Tennessee.
They honored Felix and his son by letting them know they are finalists to win a trip to at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Feb. 7 as part of the "Together We Make Football" series.
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