Monday, October 5, 2015

Saturday night lights in the Sertão!

Saturday we had the first American football game in the "Sertão de Pernambuco" which is our area of Northeast Brazil. We played the Caruaru Wolves, a team from about two hours away. They have been playing for about two years and were on their third game. This was our first game.

Normally it takes a while to get the public involved, but we had around 1200 people at the game, which shocked people within the American football community here in Brazil. We garnered the support of city officials and businesses. The event ended up being a big success in which the team made money to buy equipment and be more organized, the community was introduced to the game of football, and the players were able to experience their first game.

Shockingly, the game started at least an hour late due to the late arrival of the Wolves. This stressed out a few people, but didn't seem to effect the environment once we started to play. It did give me the opportunity to pray with the team while we waited for the other team to arrive. It has been amazing how open they have been to allowing me to speak about God and pray.

The game was a close one between a team that looked bigger and more organized as far as equipment goes. We played with borrowed equipment which did not even equip our whole team. We ended up losing 18-8 after they had a pick six in the final quarter as we were driving for the win.

I was able to start the game as quarterback. We drove down the field right away, had a TD called back because of holding and then instead of a 4th down field goal we went for it and they intercepted the ball. We then allowed a safety on a kickoff after they had kicked a field goal and we were down 5-0 without the ball. When finally getting the ball back we started driving and then lost the ball on a bad snap (and bad recovery on my part).

In the second half we started driving and I ended up leaving due to injury. They had been hitting me late and out of bounds all game and the last one did something to my ribs. I was fine, but unable to continue and so our back up went into the game. We got our first touchdown and 2 pt conversion and were only down 12-8. Our defense made another big stop and we soon got the ball back with two minutes to go. Unfortunately our QB threw it downfield and it got picked off and run back for a TD. Down 18-8 we didn't do much more.

But we were proud of everything (and just a little sad about the victory). The other team realized we were not a joke, which is good and our team showed a lot of promise for only being our first game. The community has especially embraced us as the stadium filled up. We had way more fans than any soccer game ever draws. I am grateful that God has allowed me to use sports again to reach people for Christ. Last night in our Bible study (in which our non-religious head coach was present) I told them that football was not the most important thing in life; that we need to glorify God and seek Him. For sure I am looking forward to our four month furlough and a break from football, but I will look forward to getting back to it as well. I will let you know when we post the video from the game, but I hope you enjoy the pictures posted here.

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