ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Some Abilene Christian University athletes are giving refugee children from Africa a taste of home through soccer camp.
Laughter, shouts, and cheers were all that can be heard while refugee kids at Abilene Christian University enjoyed what they knew best before coming to the United States: soccer.
Although there is a language barrier and these kids are in an unfamiliar place, being out on the soccer field reminds them of home.
“In Africa, there’s only soccer, there’s kids playing everywhere,” says David Masha.
“Playing soccer, that’s the only sport I know,” says Lawi Mfaume.
For the past two years, Princess Shaba has participated in this camp, working on growing her soccer skills.
“It’s just like part of me I guess, all sports are a part of me, so soccer is one of them,” says Shaba.
So much so that she even helps the volunteers and other players with their communication.
“I love translating because it’s fun, but sometimes I get shy because all the eyes are on me,” she says.
ACU women’s soccer player Emily Heidman says she believes this camp has the potential to go far with the help of the community.
“Seeing some of them come in jeans and full, long-sleeved outfits, it’s heartbreaking because it’s 90 degrees and we’re playing for two and a half hours,” says Heidman.
She says this has been an eye-opening experience and knows how impactful sports can be.
“I just know how much soccer has impacted me, and if I could be that for somebody else and help build this atmosphere for them, I’m completely in for it,” Heidman says.
She hopes to continue to see this camp grow in the near future.
“It’s an awesome experience for them and if we can build a community for them that everyone else experiences in sports and stuff like that, then we should do that. Because this is awesome for them and it’s really enjoyable,” says Heidman.
“It reminds me of back at home,” says Mfaume.
The is the second time the event has been held since COVID-19 canceled last year’s plans.