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Part 1: For the Love of Soccer - ''I am important & I belong!"

Ask most children in Korah what they like to play or what their favourite sport is and nine times out of ten the answer will be “soccer!” So back home in Canada, when our local Abbotsford Soccer Association generously donated soccer jerseys, shorts, socks and balls for our upcoming trip to Korah, Ethiopia we were pretty sure it would be a big hit. When the day arrived we had no idea that around 200 kids would show up and fortunately we were prepared – well, almost….

It was a hot and sunny afternoon and the children had to walk around 30 – 45 minutes out of the slum area in Korah to reach a more suitable and wide open grassy field. The makeshift, unkempt soccer field was filled with knee high grass, soggy in spots from the seasonal rains and hiding occasional pot holes and scattered rocks, while two large standard soccer nets stood at each end.  Not the kind of field my children grew up with… but the same kind of love for soccer brought it to life, as the Korah children began to assemble into teams and for the first time put on a “real” soccer jersey.  A jersey that magically gave them a sense of pride, that said “I am important” and “I belong.”  A jersey that they may have dreamt of on occasion, but many never thought of owning… could never possibly own, let alone be part of a team where together, they could sense “We are important! And we belong!”  

It is in this context I hope you will look at these photos and see the expressions of joy, the feelings of belonging and the bonds of friendship as these children wear their uniforms with pride and play the sport they love!
                                                                                                                  But I have to warn you, there is also another story to tell… and that story is not so happy, it is the story of being “almost” prepared for 200 kids - but not prepared enough.  You can read that story when you scroll further down, after viewing the photographs below….

Children arriving at the soccer field.

Lining up in teams and waiting for their jerseys

A short video clip taken shortly after 
arriving at the field & handing out jerseys 



The long neglected field teemed with children of all ages, all anxious to play and lining up to receive their jerseys… but then the inevitable happened… the 150 jerseys ran out long before the children.  I hated it. I can’t tell you how that pit in my stomach grew as the bags began to empty and it was apparent that there would never be enough to go around.  It reminded me of the day before at the shelter, when over the lunch hour there was not enough food to feed all of the children in the streets, those standing outside the gate… it is like that in Korah… and I am sure in most places where poverty is so prevalent… no matter how many you feed, there will always be more at the gate.  I don’t like it.  I don’t like it at all.

And on this day, to see these children who had walked so far, and were so hot, standing out in the sun, wanting so desperately to join the excitement and then to have their hopes dashed… just broke my heart.  We tried to do what we could to soften the blow… We gave them each black soccer shorts, brand new and shiny… which some accepted with forced smiles and some even genuine, but mostly we were met with sad & pleading eyes… these weren't jerseys… and they did not magically shout out how special and important I am…. 

This was the hard and honest truth of that bittersweet day in the sun - there will always be more at the gate. I hope this reality will never paralyze me to ‘in-action’ but rather move me to “prayerful action” with every step I take.

Thankfully for some of these children who stood on the side lines that hot afternoon and waited… a new day WAS coming… God would provide a new field and an unexpected game and a new moment for all of us and it WOULD shout out “You Are Important!! And Yes! You belong!”

I can’t wait to share that story with you – “Part Two: For the Love of Soccer…” in just a few days.


  1. i LOVE it Eve!!! Blessings on you and all those in Korah. Even if there were no jerseys at all, God Himself shouts, "You are important! You belong!" Bless you, and all of HFK, and all those back home in Abbotsford, Seattle, Tennessee and wherever else, and whoever else carries these children in their hearts, for being his trumpet in sounding that message!!!

  2. This is so sweet!!! It just brings tears to my soul. These children now have sweet fellowship with the Abbotsford soccer jerseys we brought to the poor of the poor in Honduras slums....same Kindgom of belonging....different part of the world. I am so grately that Nic and Dustin heeded the call, were obedient and organized the camp...."every single cup of water or it matters..." This posting has made my day. Love to you all..Joanne Paul


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