There's probably not many kids who grow up in southeast Saskatchewan wanting to play in the National Football League.

But 11-year-old running back TJ Thompson isn't shy about his aspirations of playing professional football.

"I hope to go to the NFL and just continue with football," said Thompson, who just finished up his season with the Estevan Chargers U12 team having won Offensive Player of the Year honours.

Thompson, who was born and raised in Estevan, explained how he got started with the sport that he's now excelling in.

"When I was seven years old, I just wanted to try something new, so I signed up and just learned the basics and wanted to keep going with it," said Thompson. 

And why did he choose to be a running back?

"I just have good moves and I got good speed, and I'm pretty big," he said.

Interestingly enough, TJ's family has deep roots in another sport.

"We're a baseball family," said TJ's mother Kathy. "He's been playing baseball since he was four-years-old, and I've probably done about 20 years of coaching over the years of baseball. So I always tried to get him into baseball. And then he decided to try football."

"The president of Estevan Minor Football, Kevin Mortenson, he lives across the street from us. And he spotted TJ one day and said, 'hey, ever think about football?'" she said. 

She said TJ barely touched the ball in his first year as a seven-year-old with the Estevan Cudas, but he won the team MVP award in each of the next two seasons.

Kathy Thompson also described what its like watching her son play such a physical sport.

"I found out in the last couple years that I turn into kind of a different person when I'm watching him play football," she laughed. "I never thought I could cheer that loud and yell that gets pretty intense, pretty exciting. And then also I hold my breath every time there's five, six kids piled on top of him and I wait for him to get up from the bottom of the pile."

She added that TJ has been a multi-sport athlete all his life, having competed in soccer, gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, and track and field.

"I don't even know if he's totally picked one thing or another, but he does love football," she said.

Chargers head coach Matt Schell said he knew Thompson was a special player when he first saw him on the field.

"He's just one of those kids that as a coach you get and you just know from the minute that you got him that he's one of those players that's just going to give you everything he has every single practice, every snap in practice, and then it just transpires into the way he plays the game," Schell said.

"He plays like he's about 16 or 17, but he's 11."

TJ ThompsonTJ Thompson poses with his Offensive Player of the Year award from this past season. (Photo supplied by Kathy Thompson)

This winter, Thompson will be heading to Moose Jaw to play 7 on 7 indoor football, and then he's going to Texas with the Saskatchewan Selects travel team in February. He'll also be graduating from the Estevan Chargers program to play in the next age group with the Estevan Oilers next season.

He also revealed why he wears number 41, which harkens back to his strong interest in the NFL, with the player he looks up wearing the same number.

"I like Alvin Kamara on the Saints," he said. 

"Number 41, that's why TJ likes to wear number 41," his mom said.