It’s finally here! AIA soccer tour season is upon us and in just 8 short days, our men’s and women’s team will be embarking on the adventure of a lifetime as we set off for Panama and Mexico to utilize the beautiful sport of soccer to bring the life changing message of the gospel to the nations.
Maybe you’re reading this because you are a supporter of this ministry or someone specifically in AIA, maybe your a family member or a friend, or maybe you just stumbled upon this page out of curiosity. Whatever brought you here, welcome! We are thrilled to have you along for this journey with us as we step out into the unknown, trusting that just maybe, God has something pretty wild awaiting us in Panama and Mexico.
We hope to fashion this blog in a way that gets you as close up and personal to the wonderful world of tour as possible. Maybe you’re wondering who will be coming with us on this tour, or what the heck we’ll be doing and why we’ve chosen to go to Mexico and Panama this year. Well, you just sit back and let me share with you everything you need to know before we go!
WHO WE ARE
This year, a collection of athletes from across the world will formulate the men’s and women’s AIA soccer tour teams. These players will be joining us from Canada, the US, Northern Ireland and even Mexico, providing a breadth of skill and wisdom, bound to make this a unique experience. Our group will consist of 12 staff and 24 athletes ranging from high school age, to our more mature and well seasoned veterans (the old people).
Two other key members of the team that will be joining us are local AIA staff in both Panama and Mexico. These men go by the names of Saul Andrade, former professional soccer player serving in Puebla, Mexico, and Isaac Ensanat, who came to faith through the campus ministry, working in Panama. Both Saul and Isaac are passionate about using the sport of soccer to bring the gospel to the people of their communities and we’re stoked to be partnering with them again.
WHY PANAMA & MEXICO
The purpose of taking tour to Panama and Mexico this year is to simply be a blessing to the local AIA staff, Isaac and Saul, to help them open new doors and be a support to their ministry. It is our desire not only to provide encouragement and support, but more importantly, to learn and grow from them as well.
Since each ministry is in a different phase of growth, our work in each country will vary. Regardless, our trip fits into a much bigger and long term picture. The work we are setting out to accomplish is designed to propel each ministry into its future, not provide a short term solution. The blueprint of tour aims to help each ministry flourish beyond just the few short weeks we will be spending there.
We as a staff team are very excited to be going back to Panama and Mexico. We have been partnering with Panama for the past 9 years when we sent our first team there in 2009. Isaac came to Christ through the campus ministry, and it was immediately evident that he had gifts in leadership and a passion for sport ministry, so we committed to partnering with him and AIA Panama.
Our affiliation over the years thus far has been exclusively with men’s soccer teams, so we’re pumped to be sending our first women’s team to Panama this summer. Isaac inquired about us including a women’s team as part of this tour because recently, Panama relaunched their women’s professional soccer league after a 7 year hiatus. Isaac has a collection of volunteers able to do ministry with these women, however, they are in need of some assistance to build those relationships. And of course, we want to do our best to meet this need.
Our relationship with Saul, from Mexico, began in 2011 when he joined the AIA tour in happening in Panama and has remained in close contact with our AIA staff who participated in that tour. Just within these past couple years Saul has courageously decided to join staff with AIA in Mexico. Saul’s heart sings for evangelism and discipleship and has focused his ministry mostly on university campuses. Our work with Saul in Mexico will look a bit different than the work we do in Panama, so let me share a little about that…
WHAT WE WILL BE DOING
Before the work can begin, the athletes will spend 2 days being trained by our awesome staff receiving cultural orientation and being prepped for what will be happening in coming weeks. During this time the athletes will also be practicing on the field as a team, and engaging in team building activities, all with the intention of equipping and preparing the team, while also cultivating a solid team dynamic. Once training has finished, the work can begin!
Our time in Panama will be dedicated more so to service which will be displayed through soccer camps for the kids in the community. While in Mexico, our time will be devoted to playing the local teams and using that platform to build relationships with the Mexican athletes and spend time with them after the games.
In both countries our staff will be hosting Coaching 4 Life conferences where coaches will be invited to come and learn how to transform their coaching platform to go beyond just the soccer field. To be coaches that, from a place of love, inspire transformation and excellence in sport and in life.
So as you can see, there’s a lot to be getting excited about as tour quickly approaches, and I can’t wait to share with you all the stories that tour will bring. So stay tuned! It’s about to get wild and crazy over here, and we want you to come and be part of this journey with us. God is on the move. God is up to something. And we want to be part of it. I hope you do too.