Soccer group’s real prize found off field

SNOHOMISH — Adventure Soccer Director Matt Raney wanted to teach his players something besides soccer.

His Christian-based nonprofit provides soccer camps for elementary-age kids. The money raised is used to help people in Swaziland, a small southern African country that is suffering from the AIDS pandemic.

When he met Christian missionaries who work with children in Sierra Leone by starting a soccer league, he decided to help them and also teach his players a lesson in how to help others.

So 40 kids have formed four teams and are set to compete in a tournament as a way to help children in Sierra Leone.

“To make a change in the life of a kid in a Third World country is a very special opportunity,” Raney said.

The kids are participating later this month at the Holiday indoor soccer tournament at the Snohomish Indoor Soccer Dome. This is the first time Adventure Soccer is participating in any tournament.

In order to participate, the kids had to pay $5, which will be used to buy socks and shorts for the African kids. Raney asked the parents to make the kids do extra chores, so they can earn the money themselves.

Adventure Soccer will provide the jerseys, Raney said.

The kids are sending written messages and photographs of them while they compete.

The goal is to help children in Sierra Leone play soccer, he said.

“Win or lose in the tournament, they have won in Sierra Leone,” he said.

One of the kids competing is his 11-year-old son, Liam.

The fifth-grader at Machias Elementary School had to rake leaves for three days to get the necessary funds.

He wants to send a message of not giving up.

“We are giving hope because some people over there don’t have hope,” Liam said. “We are using soccer as a fundraiser so they can have a soccer league.”

His friend Conner Watt, 11, is competing. He joined the team because he loves soccer and wants to spread the message of Jesus Christ.

“I want the kids in Sierra Leone to find the Lord and know him as I do,” he said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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