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City youth football teams come together for Mayor’s Cup

Mikaura Galvao 9, of the Hyde Park Cowboys, got some last minute advice from her aunt, Erika Quashie. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Hundreds of the city’s young football players laced up their cleats and donned their jerseys, and then with the bravado of Patriots players hit the soggy turf in Dorchester on Sunday, facing off in the first scrimmage of the Pop Warner season.

Nearly 2,000 people gathered on Roberts Playground for the annual Mayor’s Cup Pop Warner Football Jamboree, which many players, organizers, and parents called their favorite day of the year.

“There’s no drama, no crime,” said Lenny Thomas, the coach of the Dorchester Eagles.

Thomas, better known as “Coach Slimmdawg’’ on this turf, said it’s important to have the community join together and celebrate the children. “It’s all about the kids,” he added. “It’s just fun.”

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Billy Sittig, the recreation program manager at Boston Centers for Youth & Families, said this is the biggest event his department runs. He smiled as he watched the children, ages 6 to 14, run the field.

“It’s like they’re having a pillow fight,” he said, laughing, as he gestured toward some of the younger players, decked out in shoulder pads that were comically large for their slim frames. “They just bounce off each other.”

Fabie Elysee tied shoe laces for 7-year-old Syrus Hampton, of the Mattapan Patriots.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Isaiah Greene, 6, and Larry Simpkins-Dixon, 9, both players on the South End Titans, refueled with Gatorade and barbecued chicken after their match.

Isaiah said his favorite part of the day was winning, and watching Larry score a winning touchdown.

“I used to be the best player on the Titans before Larry joined. But I still run the ball,” he said. “And I sacked the quarterback.”

Shantel Simpkins, Larry’s mother, watched from the sidelines in her team jersey.

“It’s exciting seeing the kids out there learning the fundamentals,” she said. “This teaches them discipline and it’s good stress relief.”

Governor Charlie Baker turned chicken legs on a smoker grill at the back of the field and posed for photos with the players.

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“I’m happy to be here,” Baker said. “It’s a great day in a great community.”

The event began at 9 a.m. and was expected to run through the afternoon. The football season officially begins next month.

“I want to wish all of the teams participating this year the best of luck,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Each year, this event brings young players together from across the city for a day of fun and friendly competition.”

South End Titans player Larry Simpkins-Dixon, 9, evaded a Mission Hill Buccaneers defender. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
The Parkway Falcons warmed up before taking on their opponents.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Jaiden Buckley, 8, of the Hyde Park Cowboys, got a hug from his cousin Nyah Garrett.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance
From left: Dorchester Eagles players Camaree, 6; Khyri, 6; Khamaree, 5; and Vidal, 6, waited on the sidelines.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Jacqueline Tempera can be reached at jacqueline.tempera@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @jacktemp.