As a mentor, our coaches become big brothers and father figures to their players. This relationship will guide these young men for the balance of their lives.
Our coaches aim to move players through three levels of engagement – Connecting, Growing, and Serving.
If you were to visit our program in Uganda, the first thing you would notice is a well-organized soccer club. We have three quality soccer campuses with a thriving group of competent, caring coaches. Soccer dominates the sports culture in Uganda, and we have chosen to tap into this energy to create momentum for our mentoring program. Boys are attracted to our fields, playing with a real soccer ball, and wearing a jersey on game day. These are great luxuries for Ugandan youth.
We use this opportunity to attract the boys’ attention to begin teaching them important life values, such as hard work, team unity, discipline, and competing within the rules. Beyond learning these important skills, our greater desire is that a player will begin to engage in a long-term mentoring relationship with one of our coaches.
In a culture where fathers are often absent and boys crave male role models, our coaches become big brothers or even father figures to their players. This gives us a powerful opportunity to deeply influence a young boy’s life.
After connecting a boy to a mentor through soccer, we seek to promote the growth of both player and coach. Players will receive life values lessons after each practice. Based on the values extracted from the bible, the lessons are presented to boys who elect to participate.
These lessons have been unifiers in a culture of differing faiths and various tribal backgrounds. Players also may choose to receive one-on-one mentoring visits at lunchtime while in school and join their team in community service projects. Per each calendar year, it is our aim to give a boy thirty-five relational connection points with his coach. As this intentional approach to relationship-building unfolds, we believe boys’ lives will be impacted by our gifted, caring staff of coaches.
We recognize that the personal growth of our coaches is the most important element of our program. Everything we do is designed to have a boy impacted by these coaches, so it’s important that we continue to develop their abilities and care for the boys. We have an extensive process designed to help our coaches continually mature. Each coach receives hundreds of hours of training and connection every year in order to encourage personal growth. We accomplish this each year through hundreds of video conference calls, DVD teaching, small group discussions, and face-to-face trainings. Our work with these coaches is extremely intentional, developing their character, leadership skills, and relational skills with players. We believe that when one of our coaches becomes a little bit stronger, the effect is multiplied through the various relationships in which he is investing.
Finally, we aim to have coaches and players providing community leadership exemplified by their service. Corruption, self-interest, and power grabs are prevailing trends in many cultures. We believe the pinnacle of leadership is servant leadership. Powerful, transformative leadership happens when people serve others. Therefore, we require coaches and players to serve their community multiple times each year.
We hope this culture of service endows players with a vision of their responsibility to lead and to give back. As they grow into adult leaders in their communities, we want them to understand they can produce powerful change through servant leadership.