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    Sixteen members of the men's soccer team and two members of the women's team will be spending spring break on a "sport diplomacy" trip to El Salvador.

Soccer players to spend spring break on “sport diplomacy” trip to El Salvador

This spring break, 18 Southwestern University soccer players will be spending their time off traveling to El Salvador, playing soccer and working on service projects needed in the area. The idea was put forth at the alumni soccer game last March and has now come to fruition as a one week trip to El Salvador where students will spend half the week playing soccer and three days doing community outreach work.

“I think this trip will allow me to see soccer in a different way, not just as a game, but in many ways, as a form of living for the people of El Salvador,” said Lyndsey Resnik, sophomore women’s soccer player.

Planning for the trip has been facilitated through Together in Hope, a faith-based, non-profit organization committed to building relationships with members of underserved communities and collaborating with them to promote their material and spiritual well-being. Together in Hope was founded by Diane McGehee, mother of senior soccer player Ben Feiler, and Harold Recinos, professor of church and society at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.

“We want our student-athletes to experience the tremendous reward found in contributing to a larger humanistic cause. The chance to build relationships with members of impoverished communities around the globe will prove to be very inspirational,” said head soccer coach Don Gregory, who is accompanying the students on the trip along with assistant coach Zach Pope and head athletic trainer Glenn Schwab. “The combination of fútbol and fellowship is very exciting.”

In El Salvador, the students will stay on the University of Central America campus in San Salvador. They are scheduled to play a match against the National University Soccer Team on March 21, a match against the University of Central America Jose Simeon Canas on March 22 and a match against the Alta Mira Flores Soccer Club on March 23rd. The group is taking Southwestern memorabilia to give as gifts at the soccer matches they will play in.

The Pirates will also conduct soccer clinics with children from a school supported by Together in Hope, Rosa Blanca de Alta Miraflores. They are taking down uniforms, balls and other items to give to the children at the soccer clinics.

Students will doing hands-on community outreach in towns that where phone service has only been available for four years. “The students will get to see abject poverty at its best,” Gregory said.

The group will be providing daily updates on the trip on a blog titled “Serving Up Hope in El Salvador.”  To access the blog, visit www.txcumc.org, then scroll down the front page until you see “blogs,” click that and then look for the link to “Serving Up Hope in El Salvador.”

Rosalie Bonner