Soccer ministry takes local coach and athletes to Africa

Nigel Mullan | May 19, 2010

By Rob Schellenberg


Kevin Thiessen co-directed the Athletes In Action Ireland tour to the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He is shown here during a game against LOK Leipzig. Submitted photo.
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evin Thiessen is hoping the power of sport will help draw African people to Jesus Christ.

Thiessen, along with players from Briercrest College and Seminary, the community of Caronport, and other players from North America and Germany, will be playing soccer with an Athletes In Action team in South Africa and Malawi this summer.

Thiessen will co-direct the tour. Levi Kozun, Rylan Thiessen, Forrest Macfarlane, Brad Van Hanegem, Mitchell Van Hanegem and Shane Johnson, Caronport High School students and alumni, will join him. They will be playing matches against top local and national teams and running soccer camps and clinics.

“We will be working alongside local churches in Cape Town, serving them through running soccer camps, playing matches against local university and club teams, and hopefully creating a unique bridge into their communities through the platform of soccer,” Thiessen said.

The trip coincides with the World Cup, soccer’s world championship and the planet’s premier sporting event.

“There may be some opportunity for youth work, and for community events such as watching the World Cup games on a big screen and inviting community people to come and join us,” Thiessen said.

The Clipper coach is excited about the opportunity and is surrendering the outcomes to God, something he learned on previous ministry trips to Malawi and Germany.

“I’m not sure what I’m expecting to learn, to be honest,” he said. “After my first few experiences on tours of this nature I stopped expecting and focused more on surrendering fully to God. I found that when it became less about me and more about Him my experience was much more fulfilling and God had much more in store for me than I could have imagined.”

He knows the trip will impact the young men travelling with him. “I expect this to be a pillar moment for these young men. I am excited to see them step out of their comfort zone as they learn how they can use their sport as a platform to live out their faith in practical ways.”

“I believe this will be a significant, memorable, and formative experience for these young men, and I’m glad to be a part of it with them.” The team will be in South Africa June 4 to 25 on behalf of Athletes in Action Canada Soccer.