My unsure feelings about the trip disappeared once I arrived in Paraguay. While it was our mission to help the girls there, they changed my life for the better. Before going to Paraguay my mind was restless with the stress from school, soccer, and social life, but the girls grounded me by showing me how to uncomplicate life.
I was the happiest I had ever been when I played soccer with them. We didn’t need a grass field, a scoreboard, or jerseys to play. We splashed around in the mud, with huge smiles on our faces, as we tried to kick the ball in between two sticks. It was beautiful how all the kids from different neighborhoods, and different schools, came together to share their love for the game. Recognizing this made me realize that soccer is much more than a sport. Soccer is a way to bring people together, and express themselves. Soccer allows us to forget about all the obstacles we face, and remain focused in the present.
This was how I regained my love and passion for the game.
The girls in Paraguay aren’t fortunate enough to live the way that we do, but despite their struggles, their community remains stronger than ours. Every family we encountered struggled in some aspect to survive. For instance, most of their homes were not made to withstand storms and cold nights, it seemed impossible to maintain proper hygiene while sharing a small bathroom outside between five people, and food was not easy to put on the table.
Regardless of whatever they were facing, they always had unconditional love for the rest of their community. The girls would come with us to each house to bring food, give emotional support, and to play soccer. In our world back home, we are all too distracted with our busy lives to pay any attention to our loved ones.
The girls in Paraguay taught me that true happiness comes from building strong connections with others.
Sophia is a 2019 Girls Soccer Worldwide™ Ambassador.
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