The Final Whistle…
Last November, when the buzzer sounded as the clock hit zero, my thought as I walked off of the turf field was that soccer was over. This reality broke my heart. The sport that I played since I was a little girl all the way through college would no longer be a part of my life…or so I thought.
Soccer was the last thing I thought of when I came to Haiti, but the moment I saw the poor dirt field, and jerry-built goals I was filled with an instant longing for what used to take up so much of my time. I’m not sure why, but I resisted going out to that field for the first several weeks I was here. Maybe I was concerned with other things, maybe it was because I didn’t want to be distracted from my other ministries, or maybe it was because I knew the way I would feel if I did step onto that field.
However, one afternoon Cassidy, with much enthusiasm, asked if we could go out, and kick the ball around. It was that afternoon that the fire I thought I put out several months ago started once again. It felt so natural to play with both friends, and complete strangers. I didn’t realize it before, but here the game of soccer is a magnet to everyone! Within minutes of us kicking the ball around, people were all around us.
So I thought…
I felt something in that moment as I looked around at everyone playing keep-away. It wasn’t the nice turf field, the actual size goals, or the Nike Strike Football I was used to, but I found dirt to be just as good. I realized the small, flimsy goals were more of a challenge for accuracy, and the generic Wilson traditional ball still got the job done. Soccer, for me, isn’t about the quality of the equipment, it is more about finding that raw feeling of playing the game with those who truly enjoy it.
To my surprise I found that same longing among the people here in Haiti. Yes, soccer is used for competition, but maybe, just maybe, it can also be used to build relationships, trust, and ironically the thing that I thought would distract me from my other ministries, God can actually use as a ministry.
That is the very reason that, although soccer was the last thing I thought of when coming to Haiti, it is now one of the very tools I want to use to reach out, and minister to these people. It is a point of connection that I didn’t realize I had. And for the love of the game that we mutually share, just maybe, we can come together.