Updated: May 18
Written By: Eli Wilson, Director of Sports Programming at myLIFEspeaks
You can find the audio version of this story, here.
What do sports mean to you?
For most of us, sports are athletic activities requiring skill or physical power and have a competitive nature. But sports aren't just meant to be played, I believe that sports are a way to bring people together. American football brings people together; all kinds of people, whether they are old, young, big, or small. It's a way and fun reason for people to gather.
In Haiti, the main sport that brings people together is soccer. Soccer is considered by far to be the top sport to play and the one everyone wants to be good at.
What if someone really wants to play soccer but they just aren’t really good at it. In Haiti, if you cannot play soccer then you are considered to have no athletic ability. But that's not true at all! People have different athletic gifts and I want them to find out what those gifts are. We want to show that there are many different ways to be athletic.
Throughout history, we see great athletes like Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Dale Earnhardt, and many more who were considered the greatest of all time in their sport and they didn't have to play soccer. Now I'm not saying soccer is bad at all, I love soccer and love that people have such a passion for it. I just want people who don't enjoy it that much to be able to have the opportunity to find something they are passionate about.
As part of myLIFEspeaks’ Sports Development program, I want people to find a sport that they are passionate about and do that with all that they have. Right now we are focusing on basketball.
Initially, we focused on Young Adults and had a successful basketball team, Neply Nets, up and running, and around a dozen guys showing up several days a week for prayer, practice, and games.
We recently pivoted from a young adult focus to a teenage focus with local young men ages 15-17. The objective of this change was to better cultivate a positive impact on young men during this formative time of adolescence. Right now we have around 11 teens coming daily.
What we are doing with this sports program is so much bigger than sports. We are making it about Christ and how we can use the athletic abilities God gave us to glorify His kingdom.
It is really inspiring to see a group of people come together and want to glorify God's Kingdom while enhancing their ability to play the sport that God has called them to play.
It is a gift to be able to watch what God is doing in these young men's lives. But not only in their lives, but in the community's lives too. We have kids in the village that look up to us and see us as role models. We have this responsibility to live our best LIFE on and off the court for Christ.
Many of the players who choose to play basketball have not yet chosen to follow Jesus Christ. The goal of the sports development program is to first and foremost share the love of Christ. The sport is the medium by which we can do so.
"Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." - 1 Thessalonians 2:8