LANGLEY, British Columbia – This spring, the Trinity Western women’s soccer team went on a 16-day missions and service trip to Paraguay in which the players, coaches and staff served in a variety of capacities in conjunction with SportAid.
The Spartans worked with the local Paraguayan agency Transformando Juntos Paraguay to help serve in nutrition stations, while also running a number of soccer clinics for the local children and assisting in an assortment of locally-driven service projects.
“This year’s trip was part of an on-going plan to send more and more teams to Paraguay to assist local people who are just trying to give love and care and opportunities for a lot of kids,” said Spartans coach Graham Roxburgh. “We’ve come alongside this group and asked how we can train and develop volunteers to run sports programs and it was really fun to…play our part in an expanded vision.”
Transformando Juntos Paraguay helps with the care of 12,000 children weekly through more than 300 nutrition centres and, thanks to SportAid, nearly 60 of those nutrition centres now have a sports element.
The Spartans, which featured 21 players and six coaches and staff, also helped build two homes and assisted in painting a school.
“I think it’s one thing to go into communities and do work,” said Carmen Mostat, who is coming off her second season with the TWU women’s soccer team. “But when you’re building relationships with people, that’s where the true value is. That’s how you show kids love and show that they’re cared for and that’s where you can bring in the love of God and the importance of that in everyday life.”
For the women’s soccer program, this trip was an opportunity to both serve and love, but also to further build relationships within Paraguay and, at the same time, learn the true value of community.
“We’ve always said that it’s more than soccer,” Roxburgh said. “While we want to be excellent on the field, we want to provide opportunities for our players to go on these international service projects.
“There are obviously so many wins. The group that is receiving us win because they get a few extra resources and some extra manpower. But I also think there’s a great win component for our program and our culture. We want our players to be about others and this gave us an opportunity to serve and love others. Furthermore, we received so much from the people who hosted us. You just see how much joy and love and community they have and learning from that experience is invaluable.”
This year’s trip follows on the heels of the Spartans women’s basketball team’s trip to Paraguay last year in which the team also partnered with SportAid. Trinity Western’s women’s volleyball team also took a similar venture to Paraguay in 2011.
Prior to this trip, the women’s soccer team’s most recent trip abroad was in 2012, when it served in the countries of South Africa and Swaziland.