Imagine being a little girl, growing up in an impoverished community where women are considered second-class and your family can’t afford to send you to school. You are surrounded by a culture of despair and hopelessness. This is the heartbreaking reality for many women in Southeast Asia and is a vivid picture of what life was like for Kelly.*
Growing up, Kelly’s family was quick to tell her there was no future in sports for female athletes, even though she was an active young girl. Thankfully, Kelly didn’t accept that. Through the generosity of a friend, Kelly was able to attend a university, and it was there that she came to know Christ. After graduating and leaning into her new life as a Christian, she had a vision of using sports to restore hope to young girls who were growing up like she did. She was determined to fight for the hearts and dreams of girls across Southeast Asia.
Utilizing her vision to teach girls about the Bible using the soccer field, Kelly created a soccer program that has brought light and hope to hundreds of young girls and women. Oftentimes, women in sports can feel overlooked by the world, but this program was created as a place for young girls and women to be seen and to feel valued.
Through this program, girls ages 4 and up become part of a positive community with meaningful relationships and are shown that they have been created in Christ’s image. In addition to weekly soccer training sessions, tournaments and games, the program hosts weekly Huddles (small group Bible studies), walking alongside both Christians and non-Christians while encouraging them with life values and skills.
“I finally found a team that supports and fully accepts me, and my soccer skills are improved. After I joined a Huddle, for the first time in my life I am longing to spend my time reading the Bible every day. I can tell that my behavior is changing as I learn about the Bible together with other believers on my team."
– Academy Athlete
"Seeing these girls reminds me of my past. I saw the hopelessness. I want them to know Jesus, give them hope and [show them] that there are options,” shares Kelly.
Kelly remembered her own childhood and how sports provided an opportunity for many to know Christ. Her heart is burdened for young girls who feel crushed by their situations and feels called to sport ministry, desiring to bring God’s hope and future to them.
“God knows what they are going through and wants to lift them up,” she said. “He shows He really cares.”
Kelly has experienced God’s transformational love on and off the playing field, and her dream of sharing His hope is coming true through this program. Because of her vision, more young girls feel loved and empowered by God. The world will be transformed by these girls as they learn to become confident athletes and disciples ready to share God’s love with others.
* Name changed for privacy
Join us in praying for the program’s current and future coaches and athletes, that they would seek out and grow in their meaningful relationships with Jesus Christ.
To support Kelly and her ministry financially, click here.
To be inspired by more FCA stories like this, visit fca.org.
Photos courtesy of Unsplash