From Dec. 2-3, the Denver Broncos Foundation sponsored the Tochito U12 tournament in Monterrey, Nuevo León in Mexico. Champions from 32 state tournaments competed at Ten de Monterrey's Estadio Borregos and Estadio Azul to be crowned the winner, as representatives from the Denver Broncos Foundation, Denver Broncos Cheerleaders and Broncos alumni observed the festivities.
Over the past weekend, the Broncos continued their investment in expanding football's reach beyond the nation's borders and growing the sport with the next generation of players in thrilling fashion: a 32-team tournament in Monterrey, Mexico.
Denver sponsored the co-ed Tochito U12 tournament, which drew from each of Mexico's 32 states, and sent Denver Broncos Cheerleaders, alumni and members of the Community Impact department to support the tournament and partner with NFL Mexico. The tournament built on the Broncos' investment in May, which included a grant for more than $100,000 from the Denver Broncos Foundation that helped schools develop football programming and receive flag football gear.
"The Denver Broncos Foundation is committed to making a positive impact on youth through health and wellness initiatives, which includes equitable access to sports participation," Broncos Vice President of Community Impact Allie Engelken said. "In Mexico, the Foundation's goal is twofold: growing the game of football and supporting current athletes in the sport. Through a strategic investment announced earlier this year, the Foundation is able to reach those goals through in-school educational programming at 60 elementary schools and through amazing Tochito experiences such as the National Tournament opportunities."
The teams faced off at Estadio Banorte and Estadio Azul in Monterrey, and after pool play decided the top eight teams for the championship bracket on Dec. 2, the finalists played each other on Dec. 3 to determine a champion. In the tournament, each of the 32 teams featured two female players on their roster, with one female player on the field throughout the games.
The tournament's champion was from Coahuila, Mexico, and the team will now advance to the 2024 NFL Flag National Championships in Orlando, Florida at the Pro Bowl.
"The Denver Broncos Foundation is proud to partner with NFL Mexico for the co-ed 12U Tochito National Championship," Engelken said. "The weekend's tournament provided a once-in-a-lifetime experience for boys and girls and showcased incredible young talent on a national stage. Congratulations to the team from Coahuila that earned a bid to represent the Broncos at the 2024 Pro Bowl!"
Along with funding for the Tochito U12 tournament, the Broncos will also help fund the 16U Female Tochito Flag Football National Tournament in March 2024.
"Growing the game of football internationally is a great way to build the next generation of Broncos fans in Mexico," Broncos Director of Youth and High School Football Bobby Mestas said. "Learning and playing the game of flag football as a kid can have a direct impact on building fan affinity for the sport and a team which can last a lifetime. The Broncos' marketing department has made tremendous progress in connecting with existing Broncos fans in Mexico while also creating connections with new fans as well. Introducing the game of flag, while also proving opportunities to meet Broncos celebrities, can create memories and build fan affinity with kids throughout Mexico."
Former Denver linebackers Todd Davis and Manuel Padilla attended the tournament and came away impressed by the talent and passion they saw on the field. Davis saw the tournament as a major step in many of the young players' football journeys.
"I think you should keep the dream alive," Davis said. "I think Manuel is a great example of making it to the NFL from Mexico, and I think a lot of kids out here have a lot of talent. So I think they should keep their dreams alive, never give up and continue to work hard. Anything is possible."