PRETORIA, South Africa (BP)–A key question often was posed to South African players during an Athletes in Action training camp in Pretoria held in conjunction with the World Cup competition.
“What motivates you?”
For Simphiwe Dludlu, a Christian South African athlete who is vice captain of her squad, “I couldn’t answer that” at the beginning of the training sessions provided by the AIA team from North America. Although she is a Christian, she explained that she had never played for Christ before.
The AIA trainers often halted the scrimmages to ask the question to the players, causing many of them to stop and consider what, and more importantly, who they were playing for.
Dludlu searched for an answer, explaining that in South African soccer, “It is just you and the ball.” But she noticed that with the AIA players, “It is God first, then you and the ball.”
“They came to empower us in a godly way,” Dludlu said of the AIA women. “… [Now] I’ll be able to stand up and say, ‘We are doing it [soccer] for God.'”
“I’m motivated now,” said Rachel Sebati, captain of South Africa’s U-17 (Under 17) team. Now, “I always talk about God every time [I play]. I always involve God in everything I say to show [non-believers] that this is because of God.”
Evelyn Adamson is an intern for the International Mission Board’s global communication team covering competition and ministry related to the World Cup tournament in South Africa.