A Soccer Game on Humbling Turf

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Is there a home team in a game of soccer played in North Africa? Hardly it seems. As a class of thirteen Seattle Pacific University students we were welcomed to spend a day with young boys and girls in a town outside of Meknes, Morocco. Never have I felt so at home away from home than working up a sweat, playing soccer with children who could not even speak my language, or I theirs. Teams split up, and the African sun beat down on us. Timid first kicks and dribble quickly gave way to a heated game of… GOAL!!!!! The other team scored first. One of the smallest boys on our team, in a beat up corduroy shirt turned out to be a real superstar. He proved to us without words as he lead our team with patience, skill, and agility that size means nothing in a game of tight, brisk footing and fast thinking feet. Not just feet, but heads, knees, and chests all came flying towards the soccer ball, inches from the goal. The game was definitely heating up. Before we knew it, teams were tied, and no one was an outsider by the end of the game, where even the weakest players (myself included), managed to squeeze in a kick or two. The other team won in a final hooray, but the sportsmanship and appreciation from all players felt real without needing words – just hugs, photos, laughs, and handshakes.

What some people spend lifetimes looking for, I found alongside my peer in a group of young Moroccan boy: that home is not just a place, and that even coming thousands of miles away from these children we could share in their cross-cultural embrace. When the time came to leave, the boys on my team asked me for a photo. Their faces are still etched in my mind, a reminder of the humble hearts of our Moroccan brothers. Even though t was just a simple game of soccer, cultural walls immediately came down on Moroccan turf, and I am blessed with the opportunity to be so welcomed and loved in a place so far away from what I know in the United States, An exchange of so much, Shukran, Morocco.

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