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Providence Men’s Soccer Team Kicks Off Mission Experience in Jamaica
The Providence Pilots men’s soccer team has landed in Jamaica.
Between now and May 1 the squad of 12 players, accompanied by Martin Ward and Gary Schellenberg, will be playing four matches against local opposition and helping out at several Kingston-based ministries.
It’s the latter commitment, says Ward, that is the true focus of the trip.
“The objective is not just to play soccer,” he says. “Actually, soccer is a minor part of it. It’s using soccer to reach out to people.”
Ward, who coached the team for 21 years before hanging up his cleats at the end of the 2014 season, will take charge from the technical area in a sort of “last hurrah.” But, he concedes, he’s most looking forward to working at Mustard Seed Home and the Alpha Boy’s Institute—the two facilities where he and the Providence delegation will be spending much of their time.
“A lot of this trip is about interacting with the kids,” he says. “A lot of the issues in these communities is due to the lack of strong father figures, of broken families. We want to go there and be role models for these kids and say, ‘Here’s a way of life that you can aspire to’.”
He adds: “My hope for the trip is that we give hope to some of these kids.”
Ward has also encouraged his players to discuss girlfriends and relationships with the young men they meet, to reinforce the notion of strong, solid families and the importance of staying faithful. And, he says, if the team can provide hope for the future and motivation for family life, it’s job-done.
The Pilots will also be meeting up with former player Adrian Clarke, who now runs a youth group in Kingston.
“Part of the trip is to encourage Adrian and see what’s happened in his life, and to tell him he’s still part of our family even though he’s not [in Otterburne] anymore,” says Ward. “Hopefully we can nurture the seed that was planted in him while he was at Providence.”
Miguel Fictoria, another one-time Pilot, will be travelling with the team and can expect to have onlookers gravitate to his ball skills during games and workshops.
“He’s such a skilled player on the ball,” glows Ward. “You just go ‘wow’ when you see him play.”
On the field, Providence will take on the University of the West Indies, Barbican’s (a Jamaican Premier League club) Under-20 side, second-tier Real Mona and an Alpha Boys academy team while in Jamaica.
“I hope this trip will ignite something in the players that will give them a desire for helping other people,” says Ward. “I hope this will be a highlight of their time at Providence.”
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