From The UNOH blog.
No Comments Football has the potential to bring diverse people together, for joy and love to mingle as God intends. While football is often in the headlines for the wrong reasons, I saw its potential realised this week like never before. Australia plays Thailand in the World Cup Qualifier
on Tuesday and so the footballing world gathered and focussed on Bangkok. Australians from the footballing community especially made contact. That someone like former Socceroo and Fox Sports commentator Andy Harper, would visit Klong Toey slum, ‘cook with Poo’ and run clinics for kids on the hot mid-day concrete was just part of seeing this joy unfold.
What I saw clearly was that if people we respect appreciate us, we can be freer to see that our lives matter. For example, through the Australian Embassy, the Socceroos invited our Klong Toey FC under 10s to a football clinic just for them. You could see confidence growing with every kid’s kick. It was almost as if, written on glowing faces, was ‘If heroes of the world game like Mark Schwarzer, Lukas Neil and Luke Wiltshire spend time with me, then I must matter.’ Along with the kids, our coaching staff who attended too, myself included, couldn’t help but walk taller after such an encounter.
Self-worth can make a difference between ultimately destructive or healthy choices in life. This deposit for good into these boy’s hearts – so used to receiving the opposite messages like you’re a dumb, good for nothing slum kids – can be drawn upon when the inevitable challenges arise for lives precariously balanced. We feel like the odds at least started to become fairer this week.
Yet, we have to put self-worth into perspective. Not all people, sports people included, use their time, resources and power to affirm others. Many of us in fact, are tempted to live like we are centre of the universe and every-one else matters much less than me. Too much confidence is a pride that often brings a fall, not just for us, but the dignity of those around us.
Jesus is our best example of humility. As the apostle Paul reminds us, ‘Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross.’ (Phil. 2:3-8) This is the kind of humility that can at once appreciate who we are in God, yet also freely sacrifice this for others, can transform the world as it can transform the lives of our footballers.
I was proud to be part of the footballing community this week. Surely God smiles when we live as God intends together! I pray for more people like Andy, Mark and Lukas and the others we met. May we all, our boys included, grow in humility and life affirming ways.
PS. Our football program is desperately underfunded. If you would like to support Klong Toey FC’s 12 coaches, 100 players with meals, transport, kit and equipment for the $24,000 a year needed, please donate here