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Atlanta football player, 11, leaves team after take a knee backlash

A black little league football player, 11, has left his team after facing a backlash for taking a knee during the National Anthem at a recent game.

Elijah, who played for the Brooks Bears youth team in Atlanta, knelt on the field at the start of a game last month in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. 

His parents said the young boy has now been forced to change teams after one of his coaches disapproved of his actions and made him feel unwelcome.  

The symbol of protest has starkly divided opinion across America of late.

National sports stars have taken a knee at games as a symbol of protest against systemic racism following a string of recent ‘murders’ of black men and women by cops across America. 

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has raged that kneeling during the anthem is a ‘sign of great disrespect’ and blasted that the game is ‘over’ for him when players do it. 

Elijah, a black little league football player, 11, has left his team after facing a backlash for taking a knee during the National Anthem at a recent game. Pictured Elijah kneeling in the game

Elijah, a black little league football player, 11, has left his team after facing a backlash for taking a knee during the National Anthem at a recent game. Pictured Elijah kneeling in the game

Elijah told 11Alive he wanted to make ‘good trouble’ by kneeling during the national anthem after he attended protests in Atlanta calling for racial justice after the death of George Floyd.  

‘I’ve been thinking about it for a good while now. Actually, since the protests,’ the young boy, who at the age of 11 said he has already been on the receiving end of racism, said last month. 

‘It was amazing. Just the experience of seeing all these people that want to stand up for our lives – especially different races,’ he said of the protests. 

The young boy’s parents told the outlet he faced ‘adversity’ after the game and was made to feel unwelcome in the team he has played on for four years.  

They claim a coach from the Brooks Bears approached them, disapproving of their son’s actions.

‘The downside is, adversity happens. And it hasn’t been received so well to everyone. Very disappointing,’ Elijah’s mom Felicia said.  

Days after the game, Elijah left the team and joined the Sharpsburg Stallions. 

Elijah, who played for the Brooks Bears youth team in Atlanta, knelt on the field at the start of a game last month in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement

Elijah, who played for the Brooks Bears youth team in Atlanta, knelt on the field at the start of a game last month in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement

Elijah playing with the team. His parents said the young boy has now been forced to change teams after one of his coaches disapproved of his actions and made him feel unwelcome

Elijah playing with the team. His parents said the young boy has now been forced to change teams after one of his coaches disapproved of his actions and made him feel unwelcome

Elijah previously told 11Alive he was worried how his team would react to him making a stand on the football field.

‘A lot of things were going through my head,’ he explained in the immediate aftermath. 

‘Will my team support me, or will they think of me differently once I go to practice?’ 

Elijah’s parents said they were proud of their son’s actions.  

‘I’m his biggest cheerleader,’ said his mom.   

Elijah’s dad added: ‘I just wanted to reassure him that he did nothing wrong. 

‘That it is important to voice his opinion, and not allow anyone to silence him, especially when he feels important about something.’ 

Elijah at a protest

Elijah told 11Alive he was inspired by the protests

Elijah told 11Alive he wanted to make ‘good trouble’ by kneeling during the national anthem after he attended protests in Atlanta calling for racial justice after the death of George Floyd

After he faced a backlash Elijah left the team and joined the Sharpsburg Stallions. Pictured with his new team's shirt

After he faced a backlash Elijah left the team and joined the Sharpsburg Stallions. Pictured with his new team’s shirt

Elijah's parents (pictured together with him) said they were proud of their son's actions

Elijah’s parents (pictured together with him) said they were proud of their son’s actions

Scott Woodward, Brooks Bears’ director of football, has denied discouraging Elijah from taking a knee and said the team does not limit free speech.

‘In no way is our park ever going to tell a kid they can take a knee, or they have to take a knee or they don’t take a knee,’ Woodward told 11Alive.  

He added that ‘there were five boys on our team that took a knee’ and that the team would happily welcome Elijah back if he wanted to return.  

America’s sporting greats have joined protests demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism as a growing number of incidents have emerged of cops nationwide ‘murdering’ or seriously injuring black men and women.  

NBA players from the Milwaukee Bucks and other teams staged a boycott and refused to play last week after black man Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back in front of his three young children by a Kenosha cop.  

The New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals kneel while holding a black ribbon to honor Black Lives Matter before playing an opening day baseball game at Nationals Park in July

The New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals kneel while holding a black ribbon to honor Black Lives Matter before playing an opening day baseball game at Nationals Park in July

The symbol of protest against racism started back in 2016, when Colin Kaepernick was playing NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and began kneeling for the National Anthem

The symbol of protest against racism started back in 2016, when Colin Kaepernick was playing NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and began kneeling for the National Anthem 

After interventions from Michael Jordan and former President Barack Obama, players later voted to resume play in a deal that includes increased access to voting in the US presidential election, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.

This came after the Yankees and Nationals knelt in unison before the first game of the season on July 23 – just days after Donald Trump said the game was ‘over’ for him when players took a knee.

Players from both clubs knelt during the opening day ceremony, and the letters ‘BLM’ were stenciled into the back of the mound at the center of the diamond. 

The symbol of protest against racism started back in 2016, when Colin Kaepernick was playing NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and began kneeling for the National Anthem.  

The following year Kaepernick was not re-signed to the 49ers. 

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