FORREST CITY, Ark. — It all started when Jim Bailey was 16, and he lived four miles away from anywhere that kids could play sports.
“Coming to Forrest City was a big thing,” Bailey said, “So I said if I ever get a chance when I get older, I’m going to coach some ball and reach out and get kids and bring them in. ”
Now coach Bailey’s mission has turned into a field of dreams for 180 kids playing three youth sports in Forrest City, including 75 playing football. And best of all, there’s no registration fee — it’s all covered by sponsors.
Bailey is the athletic director of JB sports, which was founded in 2005 and became a nonprofit in 2011 to provide a safe place for kids to participate in various sports.
He coached baseball for years and that eventually led to basketball, but he said he figured he’d start doing what the kids wanted to do — which was football.
Bailey says it was tough for people to see his vision but he said that hasn’t ever stopped him from trying. He went out and found 14 acres of land that he imagined would be a perfect for a field. He estimated he’s spent about $80,000 to make it a reality.
“Everyone thought it wasn’t possible when I started out,” Bailey said, “especially in football.”
Roy Hamilton, a football coach at JB Sports, remembers the day he found Bailey working in the field.
“I used to be at work riding around doing odd jobs,” Hamelton said. “This particular day, I can’t remember exactly what day it was, I looked across the field in the woods and saw them in the woods cutting and pulling.
“I started laughing, I was like what the world is going on over there?”
Hamilton gave Bailey a call.
“That’s when I first found out that he was really serious about building this football field,” Hamilton said.
Both Bailey and Hamilton say that sports isn’t what motivates them to keep going.
“Nowadays … you can take something they like and that’s football, basketball or baseball and you can guide them the right way to grow up and be a great leader,” Bailey said.
Hamilton shares a similar thought saying, “You are actually giving the kids something to do to keep them off the streets.”
JB has two football fields, one flag football field and two baseball fields. A partnership with a nearby Presbyterian church provides space for the basketball facilities.
Where they host midnight basketball —where anyone and everyone can pay 3 dollars and play basketball from 5 pm to 12 pm on Friday nights.
Most of these funds actually go back into paying for regular expenses to run the program.
It’s the only football field in Forrest City that isn’t on school grounds. The athletes play teams from Little Rock and Memphis.
Bailey says that these kids really learn success, and with the new partnership, they have with the Forrest City School administration. The youth who play in JB sports will have the opportunity to continue their success in high school and Bailey says he believes long after they graduate high school.
JB Sports needs more people in the community to get involved with the program by either helping with the program or donating in order to get more equipment, Bailey said.
If you’d like to help JB Sports you can contact Coach Jim Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org