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Keeping the Dream Alive

Lindsey White

Norberto and Lindsey FTR IMG-2884I am a student at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, double majoring in Cultural Diversity and Social Services. I am also a center forward for Reinhardt’s women’s soccer team, playing the game I have loved since I was three. In the spring of 2014, I was blessed with an amazing opportunity. I was enrolled in a class entitled “Diverse People of Mexico,” which included traveling to Ixmiquilpan, Mexico, on spring break. Before the trip, I decided to collect soccer equipment to take with me to distribute. My coach, Andy Kaplan, donated two full sets of Reinhardt jerseys and five soccer balls. At the time, I wasn’t sure how the gear might be used. I assumed that I would hand out the jerseys at the school to students who needed new clothes. God definitely had different plans.

In Mexico, we were organizing supplies for the school bags we would distribute to the students. I pulled out the jerseys; and all of a sudden my host, Juan, ran out of the house yelling something in Spanish. I had absolutely no idea what was happening. Our translator explained that Juan knew a soccer team of twelve-year-old boys that needed jerseys. The team had no coach, no sponsor, no ball, and no jerseys. The boys’ lack of soccer resources made it impossible for them to move on in their league. They had won the championship for their town; but since they had no jerseys, they could not advance in the league tournament. Still hopeful, the eight boys had been going to work as soon as they got home from school each day so they would have five pesos to pay the game fee.

Mexican soccer team2 IMG_2872Their predicament struck a place in my heart. That night I lined up the boys and presented them with a new ball and a set of home and away Reinhardt soccer jerseys. They were ecstatic. The language barrier made communicating difficult, but the love of God and the love of soccer connected us.

Norberto, the team captain, told me, “It is the love for the beautiful game that keeps us going. We do not have much in life, but we know that we will always have soccer. You have kept our dream alive, and we will now be able to play forever.”

On our last night in Mexico, we played a soccer game, Mexicans vs. Americans. We witnessed the boys’ passion for the game as they played. They were also pretty impressed with my skills. When I returned to the States, I stayed in contact with Norberto and the team through Facebook.

Lindsey 2nd visit2 IMG-1278
This past spring, I was able to return to Ixmiquilpan and to reunite with the team. I was a little more prepared this time, having asked the boys what they needed. I brought more jerseys, fifteen pairs of shinguards, two pairs of goalie gloves, and protective goalie jerseys. When I saw the boys I could not believe how much they had grown up. Norberto now towered over me, but he still had the same huge smile.

 

 

Norberto 2nd visit2 IMG_1287DIG DEEPER

The boys on the team asked why I wanted to help them. At first, I could not think of an answer; then I remembered one of my favorite Bible verses: Matthew 25:31–46. I want to challenge other young athletes to use this passage as a way to connect your faith with your sport. God has blessed athletes with an incredible gift. How can you use your passion for sports to serve “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45, NRSV) and continue to make a difference in your school, your community, and the world?

Lindsey White , of Buford, Georgia, has had soccer fever for 17 years. As center forward at Reinhardt University, she helped her team win back-to-back AAC Conference championships. In addition to her passion for soccer and mission, she loves her dog Champ and the color purple.

—from devozine (September/October 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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