Alex Board (’09) came to Nicaragua hoping to inspire kids to love soccer and love God. He instead finds himself being inspired by them.
“I am overwhelmed with joy every time I get to see kids come from places (where they have) nothing with huge smiles on their faces just because they get to play the game,” Board said. “These girls, who are way too young to have experienced some of the hardships they have faced, can come to the field knowing that, for just a couple hours, they can play and forget about any other concerns in their lives.”
Board is working as Director of Coaching for the 70 girls, ages 7-19, participating in the Soccer Without Borders youth program in Granada, Nicaragua. The country’s fourth-largest city has long offered athletic opportunities for boys, but the Soccer Without Borders girls program is a new idea.
The former Crusaders midfielder earned his undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies at Maranatha. He started 77 of 81 games over four seasons (2007-10), accumulating 11 goals and 13 assists.
Maranatha assembled its first Soccer Ministry Team in the summer of 2011, sending Board and other students across the country to conduct youth soccer clinics at churches and Christian schools. When he returned, Board signed up for a 10-month internship with Soccer Without Borders. The non-profit organization works to help establish soccer programs and camps for “underserved” youth in the U.S., Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Egypt, and Uganda.
His first job was to coach Granada’s age 11-15 team, setting up practices and after-school activities and coaching the girls as they competed in a boys’ league on Fridays. Board’s duties changed in January when he became Director of Coaching. He conducts coaching clinics, provides input for the local coaches, and is organizing an adult women’s team that will join the national premier league. Board has also found time to play for a local men’s team.
Board found a local church that shared his vision, helping him organize a clinic and camp that will combine soccer instruction with a gospel presentation.
“I am thrilled about this opportunity, and I am praying that God will provide me with many other opportunities like this,” Board said.
Board’s internship ends in June, but the lessons he has learned about life and ministry will be an important part of his future when he returns.
“Although soccer can help a child overcome obstacles and positively affect their lives, ultimately, God is the answer to anyone’s needs or sense of emptiness,” Board said. “There is a great need here, and I thank God every day that He has given me this unique opportunity to serve Him.”