Boys become men by being around men and doing the things that men do: compete, lead, follow, fight for a common prize, and celebrate victory. At the end of June 2014, the Work of Christ Community in Lansing, MI, U.S.A., hosted the North American soccer tournament for the Sword of the Spirit communities and their outreaches. Over 150 young men participated. The tournament was a fiesta of teamwork, strength under control, and mutual encouragement braced by blistering competition. International and regional friendships were forged as men played through pain in the fight for the trophy – the coveted “sippy cup.”
The Americans aren’t fans of diving (acting injured or fouled) and would rather see that left for the theater. The Europeans and Latin Americans were just as unconvinced about the Americans’ rough and-tumble quality of play.
What everyone agreed on was the sense of camaraderie among the men based on a common vision of living a radical Christian life. Many noted that one of the highlights of the tournament took place off the field on Saturday night when the players joined three hundred others for the Work of Christ’s evening prayer meeting – and a variety of parties that followed.
Several hundred spectators were present for the final on Sunday afternoon, which saw the Word of Life defeat Detroit Summer Outreach in a penalty shoot-out.
There was some disagreement among those who have played in the European tournament regarding the quality of play. Most thought the best team in the North American tournament might get into the quarterfinals in the European tournament. A few rated the American best even lower. There is one way to find out: an international tournament that would draw teams from the North American and Latin American regions. In 2016 the European tournament will take place for the 25th time. That would be a fitting occasion to settle the score.
Used with permission, Kairos Youth Culture Newsletter, August 2014.