From one of our short-term team members, Brian Haney, Maryland:

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to play soccer with the boys for most of the day one day. As a former soccer player, I was floored to do this. Soccer itself is the universal sport and language. Just seeing the excitement and anticipation on the boys faces the day before was worth it.

We went over to a private sports complex and played on a shortened field 5 on 5 style round-robin. All of the Americans were integrated onto teams with the boys. To say we were mostly outmatched is an understatement, but the games were fun.

We ended the games with an “Americans vs. Internationals” final round where we played against each of the 3 teams of boys. We lost 2 and tied one, but I feel we held our own to the extent we could. We heard from the boys that the last American team they played against lost to the boys 12-4. So at least we fared better than they did.

This was such a huge highlight for me for several reasons:

One – it’s been a while since I played soccer, but getting out there with them renewed my passion for the sport I grew up loving.

Two – some of the best relational time occurred as we played – high fives, talks with the boys, sharing with them the joys of winning and the frustrations of losing… such a great collective experience.

Three – it further reinforced my love for sports in general.

For these boys, this is more than just a chance to play soccer. For them it’s cathartic and healing, a healthier channel for emotions, an opportunity to bond together, a chance to take their minds off their pains. The game itself became exponentially more meaningful. To not just see this from the sidelines but to participate in it was remarkable and something I will never forget.

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