Peru, like many other developing countries, is characterized by its contrasts and contradictions. All of its vast natural resources compete against the great number of people who do not have enough money to afford a decent meal every day. The huge size of Peru’s malls and urbanized areas can be compared to the size of different districts without basic services such as running water, electricity, and sewage.
However, in the midst of so much inequality, there are certain passions that do not discriminate against social class, age, or gender; one of the most burning passions in Peru is soccer. This sport is practiced by children and adults, poor and rich, men and women. In the light of this passion and being aware of this great instrument, Project PE0452 “Iglesia de Dios de la Profecía” has implemented the teaching of sports – especially soccer – in its curricula addressed to beneficiaries of all ages.
“A child should always receive a holistic education. Their knowledge in science and arts should be focused on God. Moreover, we should promote a sport culture to teach children basic values such as honesty, teamwork, and perseverance,” says Guisella Borja, project director of PE0452. “The younger they learn this, the more likely they will be to show these values when they grow up.”
Because of this, every Saturday, after lunch, this project rents a soccer court near the community where children receive training and have the opportunity to take turns playing in teams based on ages. Despite the basic instruction by their own tutors, this activity is bringing good results as the values mentioned by the director. Children now are keener to be present at the project. There are fewer fights and even shy children are developing their social abilities and are willing to share with their friends. Also, there is a decrease of absences within the Compassion program and a spirit of friendship and mutual support among the children.
“I really like coming to church because we always learn about God. We always play soccer after lunch and when we’re done with our lessons. I have lots of fun playing with my friends; it’s my favorite activity,” says José Paolo, one of the best soccer players at the project.
Through the relentless work of the staff in our projects, we are able to develop strategies like this, making sure children have the best possible education and keeping them away from different social issues around them. But most of all, teaching them that there’s always the possibility of having a better future.
“Practicing soccer at the project has a great impact in the lives of many beneficiaries. It is not only a sport that entertains children, but it is also a good way of equipping them for life. As Paul says in his letter to Timothy, ‘And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules’, and this also true for their lives,” says Guisella.