Gifford Park Soccer

IMG_3085Last year we started a little soccer program for our neighborhood association.  It was a lot of fun and as it came to an end we were already thinking about what we were going to do for the next summer.  Well, last Wednesday was the first of seven weeks of 3-8 year olds running around our neighborhood park kicking a soccer ball around.  Several cool things happened.

1.  34 kids and their parents showed up.  Our biggest group last year was 27.  It is so cool to see the whole park get taken over by a bunch of kids and their families.  Its a great space to meet new neighbors and have fun with our friends.

2.  A dad (Pablo) who joined us several times this winter to play basketball was there with his kids.  About half way through he stopped me and, speaking in Spanish, said “Eric, this is good and all, but we can make it better.  We need to really organize these kids into teams and get them set coaches who can teach them how to really play soccer.  Lets make this into a neighborhood club team and play real games in a league.  We can get sponsors to help these kids pay for it.  We can even have an adult team!”  My first instinct was to feel a bit defensive.  But then, I remembered why I’m here!  YES!  We have been praying for some local leaders in the Hispanic community to emerge.  I was seeing this happen before my eyes. As we chatted and dreamed I encouraged him to look into what we need in order to make this happen.  The next day he told me he had talked with a league we could join as well as found a certified coach in that league who would be one of our coaches AND that he was going to talk to his boss about sponsoring the club!  I’m really excited about this…and a little nervous about what I’m getting myself into!

3.  I saw a valuable example of  apprenticeship and teaching others about a way of life in action.  One of the things this dad said to me was that we needed to get the adults playing too “because the kids need to see that the adults value soccer and know what they are talking about when they coach.”  (That in itself is a great lesson about discipleship.) So, we invited some adults to stick around and play some more soccer.  But then it got really cool.  A few younger kids (7 and 9) wanted to play.  I wondered what  Pablo would do.  He invited them in and the rest of the game he modeled, coached and encouraged these two young soccer players.  (Heck, he was even apprenticing me in the game!)  I was struck by his multigenerational, experiential, developmental posture to the game of soccer.  

What if we actually did this as we follow in the way of Jesus?

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