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CHICAGO — A South Side youth football team is off to compete for a national championship.

The Southside Wolfpack is headed to Florida. They received a presidential pep talk and a boost from the community before they left.

Organizers said the trip wouldn’t be possible without those who stepped up and cared enough to help.

The team of 13-year-olds received a call Friday from former president Barack Obama who let the players and staff know he is proud.

“You guys handled business and I couldn’t be prouder of you,” Obama said. “I’m proud of the team, those outstanding young people. But also proud of the staff and everything you do.”

Months ago, Obama visited the junior league football team to help inspire them. Now the team of 13-year-olds remains undefeated. They won a state title and the American Youth Football Regional playoffs.

The trip to the national championship may not have happened if it wasn’t for the Chicagoland community coming together and donating the money to pay for travel expenses. 

The team needed to raise more than $30,000. They kicked off a GoFundMe campaign and within days, organizers said they raised more than $60,000.  

Early Walker helped organize the fundraiser.

“These boys deserve this. This is what it’s about. This is community,” he said. “These organizations like this is what’s going to be the median for stopping the violence in Chicago.”

The wolfpack’s cheerleading squad, The Lady Wolves, are also slated to compete for a national championship in Florida too.

Chicago Police superintendent David Brown said this is what it means to truly support children in this city.

“This is community,” he said. “Instead of talking negative about our young people, let’s talk positive. Positive vibes to our young people to not only explore their talents but to go out and win and represent their city.” 

The Wolfpack are scheduled to play their first national game Monday, December 6.