Futbol. Soccer. Futbol. Soccer. It seems to be all I hear these days. Spring is here and soccer fills the streets, alleys and parks of Chirilagua more plentifully than the petals on the cherry blossom trees. The students at Kids Club have difficulty focusing on their reading and homework because they want to go back outside to play more soccer. Conversations at Kids Club revolve around who is on a spring team, when is practice, where is practice, what time is the next game. Even when visiting with families, parents regale me with their stories of soccer glories past as children tug at my pant leg to tell me with great pride that their father has coached a team before and their uncle’s room has a soccer trophy in it. As Hoosiers are to basketball and Texans are to football, Chirilaguans are to soccer.
The importance of soccer in my neighborhood reminds me why we do things the way we do at Casa Chirilagua. We are about relationships, including cheering from the sideline. We are about engaging the whole family, sometimes including a ride to the game. We are about holisitic outreach, caring about the educational (how to play the game), physical (movement up and down the field), emotional (how to deal with losses) and spiritual (how to give God glory in everything we do/how to treat others).
Through May our weekends will be filled with visiting practices, cheering at games, encouraging after losses, and celebrating victories. Though I am not a big soccer fan, I admit that I love soccer in the springtime. I love the look on the kids faces when I show up to watch their games. I love the excitement in the voices of the parents when I ask them when and where the next game will be. I love the pride of the parents as they stand on the sidelines and watch. In a heavy accent one father looked at me, smiled and said, “Tha-smy-sohn” as he pointed to the field. When he said that to me on Saturday, I knew it was more than a game. It was a communal experience.
You never know what is going to impact a kid or a family. It may be the ride you gave them to the game or a practice. It may be the time you took to listen to a story of a victory past. It may just be the fact that you showed up to cheer and encourage. It may be a conversation that happens on the sideline with a friend or parent. We take those moments, and we watch them grow.
In the coming months we hope to start a community based summer soccer outreach. We hope you might be able to join us out on the field. I think you will find, like we do on a daily basis, whether it be your time, talents or treasure, that it is in giving that you will receive both on the field and off.
PS – Please continue to pray for: 1) the opening of our Middle School program in the fall; 2) the start up of a Kids Club Chorus and a Drama group; 3) training neighborhood leaders for a family strengthening program.