The Power of Sport

I was bored and decided to scan through Hulu to see if there were any interesting shows. I admit, it’s gotten me interested in watching a few TV shows (namely Chuck). But there was a movie that caught my eye. It was called Kicking It. The movie was a documentary about an event called the Homeless World Cup. So I queued it up and began to watch the stories that unfolded.

Note: There are some spoilers to the movie. I highly suggest watching it. It covers it pretty well.

So you might be asking, what is the movie about? It’s about the lives of a number of homeless men and women from around the world that come to Capetown, South Africa to represent their respective countries in a 4-on-4 street soccer tournament. The documentary follows the lives of several different individuals from around the world as they come together for this event. For some, it’s an opportunity to change their lives around. For others, it’s a complete culture shock. But as the movie progresses, you can see the struggles that come about each of the individuals as they progress through the tournament.

At the end of the movie, Colin Ferrell closes up the movie. He covers what has happened to many of the participants of the Homeless World Cup. It’s kind of a feel-good story for some of those, but a tragedy for others. What the documentary brings up is the power of sport in this world. Forty-eight different teams came to South Africa, and while they could all relate to each other because of their economic status, sport provided another language for all the athletes there to communicate to one another with, in addition to being homeless. To see the Irish team root on for the Kenyan team, even though they had never seen each other and lived thousands of miles away from each other was rather inspiring.

Sport as a language… Now that is a thought. In a world where we are divided by our spoken languages, our cultures, our traditions, our race, our status, and so many other fences and borders, sport is one of the things that looks beyond those differences. It is the device that bring people together to play together, compete against one another, and to get to know one another. And it is amazing at what it can do. In a sport in which almost the entire world plays, soccer is just an example of how those differences and backgrounds between the individuals no longer matter, but instead their ability and desire to get onto the field and win takes precedence.

It makes you wonder, how powerful can sport be in getting things across? The Homeless World Cup is just an example of how lives were changed. Those participants realized they weren’t just nobody in this world but somebody. Someone that is important to at least one other person, if not more. These players realized that and as they returned home, they sought to change their ways. And it’s just amazing to see that. This would not have been possible had it not been for the love of the coaches. While some may have been harsher than others, you could see that they truly cared about their players. If it wasn’t for the organizers, many of those players wouldn’t have had this opportunity to play, thus wouldn’t have come to this realization that they are loved by someone in this world and are just as important and has just as much potential as anyone else.

Through sport, we can see some powerful things happen. While we see a lot of the bad things happen with superstar athletes, we overlook some of the better qualities that God has instilled in us: Love, kindness, sportsmanship, friendship, patience, hope. I think we take sport for granted sometimes, as we watch and play. And more importantly, I don’t think we use sport as a tool enough to bring people together. It is an amazing way to reach out to people. This event is just one of the many stories that shows that.

While there may have been winners and losers in the results of the games in the Homeless World Cup, there were many more winners than just those that won their respective divisions. All the changed lives. The love that these homeless men and women experienced. The hearts and friendships created because of this. All because of the power of sport.

Thank God for sport.

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