One of the tenants of our ministry has always been to make sure our girls’ soccer program receives equal investment as our boys’ soccer program. This is easier said than done in a country that doesn’t share the same sentiment. Our all star boys’ team has participated in pre-season camps leading up to their participation in Copa Peru. Our all star girls’ team doesn’t have a tournament like Copa Peru to prepare for, or a local league to compete in, but we decided that pre-season camp would be a wonderful experience for them nonetheless. Can you host a “pre-season” camp without having an actual “season?” The answer is yes! We brought our 23 most talented girls to the retreat center we rent in Shanao, San Martín for a weekend of soccer, fellowship, team building, and especially Bible study.
We were especially blessed to have our female coaches from 7 locations accompany the girls for the weekend. This was the perfect opportunity for them to really get to know their players, establish trust, and pour into them. One “room” was led by two of our coaches from San Isidro, Ruth and Dalila. They had their girls get up at 6am to have a small group devotional time before breakfast! During one of these devotional times, two girls from their soccer academy made a public profession of faith in Jesus for the first time!!! The ladies were so excited to share this news with the rest of the coaches, and to get to continue discipling these young believers even after camp was over.
The girls’ all star team may have even fewer believers than the boys’ team. Even so, all the girls were engaged and attentive during times of Bible study. We feel this is due to the sense of trust and community created by time on the field together, and the respect they have for their coaches due to a long-term relationship. Such a careful, intentional investment in their lives makes them much more likely to listen to what we have to say! One night, during devotional time, we went around the circle and shared two facts about ourselves: 1. What we used to want to be when we grew up, as a child, and 2. The career path we were currently pursuing. It was a really nice way to get to know the girls, find unexpected things in common, and brainstorm how we can help them pursue their dreams. To our great surprise, 6 of these girls listed soccer as the career path they currently want to pursue! Please pray for them as they work towards this goal.