Soccer — More than a Game for Children in Povertyt - Compassion International

Soccer — More than a Game for Children in Poverty

  |   Posted: August 10, 2018

To battle gang recruitment in one of the most dangerous cities in Honduras, a Compassion center starts a soccer program to keep kids safe. Read how Davwin and Angel, two brothers at the project, have found a place of refuge from the violence of their neighborhood.

two boys in soccer uniforms

To minister in the slums north of Tegucigalpa is a dangerous calling. Warring gangs battle over streets, leaving innocent people caught in the crossfire.

The most innocent of those are the children.

“We faced hard times in our neighborhood a few years ago, as gang members were on a mission to recruit children and use them as informants when the police did raids,” says Noemi, who works as the project director at Los Valientes del Senor Child Development Center. “As a church, we identified the need of keeping our children out of the gangs’ radar.”

Noemi knew if there was one way to get the children, especially the boys, to the center, it was soccer.

“In light of that situation we decided to start soccer tournaments,” says Noemi, “which to our surprise have surpassed our expectations. Not only have the children’s parents shown a tremendous commitment during every soccer match by cheering for their children, but our beneficiaries are playing soccer with relentless passion.”

One of those parents was Vanessa, whose sons Adonay, 9, and Angel, 7, signed up for the tournaments. “I watched my [sons], playing on a real soccer team for the first time during one of the project’s soccer tournaments. I didn’t know how talented they were until that day,” says Vanessa. “I was glad that the project started a sports initiative because this is definitely preventing children in our community from being targeted by gang members.”

Both boys have excelled at the sport, and have even been scouted by the Honduras national soccer league for children. But Adonay has not lost sight of the deeper lessons of sportsmanship that he has learned on the field.

“I like coming here because I learn about the word of God, and about portraying Christian values on the soccer field,” says Adonay. “Besides, the fact that I get to play soccer with my project classmates has kept us united and out of danger.”

And while Adonay dreams of one day playing professional soccer, he’s also still a 9-year-old boy who loves getting letters from his Compassion sponsor and sharing his hopes and dreams with them. One dream in particular stands out.

“I wish I could meet all of them one day, and play soccer together!” says Adonay.