More Than a Game

by Ryan Krzykowski

Sometimes an older story comes across my radar and I wonder how I could have possibly never heard it before.  That happened last week as I was talking with my colleague Alec about the impact that sports can have, affecting people’s lives in significant ways.

Alec told me the story of Didier Drogba and the Ivory Coast Civil War.

I’m not huge into soccer, otherwise I would have known who Drogba is, and how he played for many years with Chelsea in the EPL.  But as Alec talked about Drogba, his upbringing and the role he and his Ivory Coast national teammates played in saving thousands of lives of their countrymen, I was amazed.  We talk often about the power of sports to impact people in ways that go far beyond what happens on a field, but still, this was incredible.  A bloody conflict comes to an end largely due to the influence of a nation’s soccer team?  Who would believe it?

Chances are you won’t coach anyone who helps negotiate a cease fire, but there is no limit to the good that can be accomplished by the athletes we serve.  Training young people to grow and develop qualities like perseverance, loyalty, teamwork, selflessness, work ethic and love will have unmistakable ripple effects for generations to come.  There is so much more at stake than the outcomes of our games — we are building people who can change the world.