Why are you coming to the US with a soccer team? What’s the purpose of having a pay to play soccer team? How does it impact the ministry?
We get asked these questions a lot, so I hope this will be helpful to you to understand.
Many years ago I saw a number of children’s choirs from Uganda and Africa travelling around the U.S. giving shows and raising money by using that platform to tell about the work they do back home. It was a way to showcase first hand to people. So I said to myself, what if we could do that with soccer. So that is where the idea came from.
There are a few teams in Uganda that have traveled to play in tournaments in Europe or the US, but they are strictly taking wealthy kids. We have a program that caters to both wealthy and needy. The funds generated from the paid program help fund the work of the ministry. We never wanted to travel with only wealthy kids, it didn’t seem right to us. We wanted to give kids of all economic backgrounds the same opportunities.
The goal of the trip is to raise awareness of our ministry, which has already started working. We have met a lot of new people over the past few weeks that are interested in our program because of the trip.
We also want to show the kids that there are opportunities for them through soccer, if they also work hard in school. There is another program based out of West Africa that has been given 25 scholarship opportunities to schools in the US this year alone, but only able to fill 8 because of low academics from their kids. Wouldn’t it be great if Rising Star kids could fill those spots? We’re working on it. This trip is also helping us raise our profile in Uganda where we can get corporate funding. Corporations want to be involved with organizations that will get their name out in the public. Through our soccer program we earned a $2,700 grant from a bank here to improve our reading center. I am meeting again with them to see how they can increase their support. PUMA has just donated equipment to us for every child in our program. Today I met with a company that has promised to sponsor us in the near future and are very excited about Rising Star. Tomorrow I am meeting with another global brand. So through this trip and the soccer program, we are trying to raise our profile in country.
There are many benefits to both having a second soccer program and having it travel. I hope you will also be blessed when you get to meet the team in person. We also hope that Christ love will shine through you to them. Despite economic situations, all of us traveling need Christs love and forgiveness. We hope this will play a role in guiding the team to that understanding.