It’s just a game, it’s just a simple sphere that you kick back and forth. It can be a strange thing to watch people go crazy over a ball and a simple game of soccer (or football as some may call it). It may just be a ball and it may be just be a game for some, but not for me and not for many others around the world.

Playing Football (Soccer) with Orphans in Zambia

I’ll spare the details on this story, but I have kicked this sphere for thousands of hours in dozens of countries on four continents. It has influenced every corner of my life from the impact it has had in my faith journey, to my ability to process things, connect and relate with others, serve the community, to my professional career – my drive, will to win and teamwork stems from my playing time at the youth levels. 10 years ago a teenage boy I played with in Cape Town, South Africa is alive because we became friends playing this simple game with this simple sphere. A story for another day, but one that changed both our lives. That moment is always on the edge of my mind when I think about this game.

Building Goals from Scrap Wood in Cape Town, South Africa

Now as an adult and a father, I get to have conversations with my four year old son about practicing, always striving to play against people better than you and having a hunger and how important desire is. We play soccer every day in our basement, often outside when the weather allows, he prefers to play soccer on the Xbox instead of watching cartoon, we’re season tickets holders at Louisville City FC, attend University of Louisville soccer games and he’s already completed his third season at the recreation level and hungry for more.

This week, I’ve been given an opportunity to expand that reach beyond the four walls of my home and into the local community in the South End of Louisville. First and foremost thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart to Louisville City for this incredible opportunity they’ve provided me and my church, Antioch. They donated the below turf to us in our quest to build a pitch that can serve our local friends.

17,000 Sq Feet of Professional Turf from Louisville City

Antioch Church was started 10 years ago in the most diverse zip code in Kentucky and at the inception of the vision for this church was the desire to bring a soccer pitch to the South End of Louisville. The church started in five languages and had a large international community and deep connection to the refugee community. Soccer provided a middle ground for everyone, in their language, to have fun and connect with brothers and sisters from a variety of backgrounds together.

Louisville United | Refugee Soccer Tournament

A few years ago 10+ acres of land was donated to the church and the idea of putting a soccer field continued to grow. In 2018, Antioch hosted a refugee soccer tournament in partnership with a local ministry and earlier this fall we hosted a free youth soccer clinic to the entire community. The seeds began to grow and have now our vision has developed into a 17,000 square foot professional grade turf donation from Louisville City FC.

We are now a mere $37,000 from being able to complete the installation of the pitch and protect the investment and the neighborhood with a fence. We have raised $40,000 and currently have a match up to $40,000 of which we have raised an additional $3,000 so far. This has been a journey for me personally and one I intent to complete. This has been a journey for our church and one that is close we can taste it.

Our vision is to transform the neighborhood offering:

  • provide soccer camps and clinics for kids to introduce them to the game and offer opportunities for those who can’t afford pay-to-play
  • developing a competitive local club so that kids can inexpensively play and not have to drive miles to play
  • provide additional services to the youth (tutoring, language training, college and career development)
  • use soccer to make others aware of our free community garden and food pantry so we can further care for the families of the players
  • provide a practice field and location for tournament for the refugee community who often can’t find or afford places to place

We are consulting with Victory Football who have run successful community programs in Czech Republic and Cyprus as well as Ubuntu Football Academy in Cape Town, South Africa on their model which has helped countless South African get international college degrees and several youth who they have helped attain professional careers domestically and abroad.

Our vision is to use that simple sphere and that simple game as a gateway to changing lives and our community. We want to change lives, save lives and alter the course of the community and the next generation.

I invite you to join us in our vision by contributing here or share our vision with others who may be able to join in: