Wow, what a weekend. We entered five of our One7 teams into the Charlotte United Under Armour Cup. Five teams, twenty games. It’s stressful and chaotic enough when we have one team in a tournament, much less five. Paperwork, player cards, socks, balls, and whatever else were finally secured at some point in the wee morning hours on Saturday. First game was at 8am. We utilized our three 15 passenger vans, one 12 passenger, one Nissan Altima, and one Doge minivan for transportation. It was pretty crazy.
We don’t just enter these tournaments to win games. Yes, to bring back a trophy for each team would have been nice, but we play for a much higher purpose. These events give us the opportunity to share Jesus with people we wouldn’t normally meet. After each game, one of our players shares with the other team about One7, God, and gives a brief, personal testimony. We also present the opposing team’s best sportsmanship player a Man of the Match award, which is normally an iTunes card. It’s always fun to watch their faces when we do that even after losing a game.
God uses our testimony on and off the field to touch people. After sharing, a lot of times the parents from the opposing team will give us gift cards, gas cards, and sometimes even cash donations. These are always vital because a tournament of this size isn’t cheap. Even if it doesn’t look like we will have the money to cover gas, entry fees, equipment, food, drinks, and everything else, we enter the tournament anyway, believing that God will provide a way.
People are so moved by what they see and hear from our youth that they can’t help but feel burdened to help in some way. Our U16 team made it to the final but lost to penalty kicks after fighting through a full match and two overtime periods. The parents of the opposing team clapped for and then hugged all of our players as we walked off the field. It was amazing to witness. These people, these strangers, see something in us, and they are drawn to it.
Out of our five teams, the U14’s won the final and were able to bring home a trophy. This was our U16’s team first time playing together, and they almost knocked off the number one team in the tournament. These boys aren’t just learning about winning and losing in soccer. The lessons they learn will carry over into their lives as they continue to become men.
As all of us at One7 will tell you, it isn’t anything we are doing. God is using this ministry in ways we could never have imagined. We follow God and trust that He will always have our back. We would like to give huge THANK YOU to everyone who came out to the various games to support our teams. That means more than you will ever know. Also, a special thank you to anyone who has ever donated money, time, or prayer to One7. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.
We will leave you with some pictures from this weekend’s tournament. Hope you enjoy.
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Have a blessed day.