Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why do you play soccer?

It's a valid question. Considering the fact that I have played soccer for 13 years now, I must have my reasons. And I do. But unfortunately, until recently I didn't have very good reasons. It's not that they were bad, they just weren't good enough. They were things like.... I play soccer because I love the team. I play soccer because I love our coach. I play soccer because I love working out and then being able to eat whatever I want! None of those are terrible reasons for playing, but towards the end of my freshman year of college, they ceased to be good enough.
When people asked why I played soccer instead of helping with Bassycs, TWO, WOW, YC, or any other Taylor program that works with youth or focuses on missions, I didn't have a reason. Logically, those really did seem like a better use of my time. It got to the point where I had decided that if I couldn't come up with better reasons for doing soccer over the summer, I would have to quit. I couldn't put time and effort into something that I didn't believe was worth it.
Then my team went to South Africa for a missions trip... during the World Cup! I know what you're thinking; that's not a missions trip, that's a party! And it was. We did have a lot of fun, go to a World Cup game, and go on a safari. But it was so much more than that. While we were there, coached several soccer clinics. All of the kids were on holiday for the World Cup (Soccer is so big there, they schedule school around it). A lot of the churches were hosting soccer clinics to give the kids something to do and keep them out of trouble. We came in and helped create and organize drills. Through these programs, the church had an incredible outreach to the community through which they could share the Gospel. We also played about 5 games and an all day tournament. Originally, I thought that was part of the selfish touristy stuff, but it actually turned out to be the biggest part of our ministry. Since we came in and played good, hard, clean soccer we were respected. Our athletic ability gave us credibility. Then afterward, when we would hang out with the other team and tell them we also loved Jesus, they would listen! It was during these two weeks that I really realized I could use the things I love to do to share Jesus with the rest of the world. That makes it worth the many hours I put into it. The other reasons I had for playing soccer still exist, but now there is even more motivation to work hard. I can glorify God through playing soccer and hopefully spark some conversations that will share Him with others who otherwise wouldn't listen.
So, when the opportunity arose to help coach a girl's team here in Ireland, I was all over it. Today, was day one of soccer insanity. I am helping coach about 25 7-year old girls of all different levels. They are absolutely adorable! And absolutely insane! I swear someone gave them all a can of Red Bull before practice. But I loved it. I had them do a couple drills we did in South Africa and some simplified stuff that we do at Taylor. They picked it up really fast. I'm excited to keep working with them mover the next couple months.
They all think my American accent is amazing. But then just to throw them off I started talking to them in a British accent. It must have sounded pretty legit, because they got confused. I asked them how they knew I wasn't actually from England and had just lied and told them I was American. That made their heads spin. But they loved it and will probably ask me to switch accents all the time now!
But beyond that, we really did get some soccer accomplished and relationships formed. I look forward to getting to know them better and hopefully sharing a little of my story. They are eager to hear about life in America and since God is so much a part of my life I'm sure He'll sneak into the conversation! After all, He's why I play soccer. He's why I do or don't do anything. Hopefully, over the next couple months, I can at least share a little of Him with these girls. I will consider it all worth my time if I am remembered as the American girl who came and taught them soccer and also happened to really love Jesus.
After all, He is the reason why I play soccer.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it great how God keeps putting opportunities in your way that let you play or coach this game to His glory. You have a lot to offer to others, and I am so glad that you are willing to share a passion for soccer sprinkled with God's love, grace, and glory. All of life is sacred and all of life is ministry, and you are once again living it through soccer (a sport that you weren't sure about playing in college because you might want to study abroad in Ireland). But wait, you are in Ireland, and you are playing/coaching soccer.

    The 2nd part of our newly developed soccer mission statement says: soccer excellence for God's glory. Way to live it out before others.

    I'm really happy for you and of course proud of you as well.