First Posted: 8/19/2014
Chris Davis was simply a grandfather watching a soccer practice when he saw a need for assistance.
While visiting his daughter Kari and her family in Loja, Ecuador, Davis observed as one man tried his best to coach 60 young boys.
A Baptist Bible College professor and its women’s soccer coach since 1993, DAvis noticed the goalkeepers standing idle and decided it was time to do something. With his grandson serving as translator, Davis asked if the coach could use assistance.
As the former Abington Heights girls soccer coach ignored the language barrier and found a way to help the boys practice, he knew he was being observed. It did not take long for a partnership to develop and for Davis to add a daily commitment to his two-month visits to Ecuador the past five years to visit Chaz and Kari Dull and his grandsons, 10-year-old Davis and 8-year-old Caedmon.
The commitment has grown and differing languages is just one barrier Davis has overcome.
A group of 26 boys from Ecuador made their way to Clarks Summit this month for a variety of soccer and other activities. Two age group teams, made up of 9-11-year-old boys, participated in BBC’s Big Blue Soccer Camp, put on impressive performances in exhibition games against Abington travel teams and traveled to Hershey to participate in the Hershey Cup.
Through the years, Davis has taken BBC men’s and women’s soccer players with him to help the youngsters. He speaks little Spanish, but had a translator stationed at each field during the Big Blue Soccer Camp to assist in the instruction.
When Davis began working on the idea of arranging a visit here for the players from Ecuador, management of the Loja International professional soccer club was among those to come forward with sponsorship. Parents were asked to make a financial commitment to show their sincerity to the project and sponsors made it happen with donations and suport of fundraising activities.
Families in the Abington travel program hosted players during their visit to reduce costs. Nightly activities were planned, including a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders game, miniature golf at Lahey’s Family Fun Park, an introduction to bowling for the first time at Idle Hour Lanes and a day of soccer golf (similar to Frisbee golf) near Wilkes-Barre.
Five parents and two coaches also made the trip and stayed at BBC dorms.
Davis said the fundraising and the money the families spent out of pocket for the trip represented a major commitment on their part.
Players who were used to practicing and playing on dirt, enjoyed the grass fields at the college campus and a game on turf at the Abington youth soccer fields.
“This is a whole new experience for them,” Davis said of playing on the field fields.
The experience went beyond that as the boys and their families were welcomed by the community.
“They experienced love and people that were nice to them,” the coach said.
With the help of a translator, 11-year-old Jota said it was “a great experience to learn other culture from the sweet people that live here.”
Gael, a 9-year-old with the team, said the biggest surprise was the locker room, gymnasium and rec center at the college.
Henrry Cely, one of the adults traveling with the group, said, “We have to especially thank Chris for helping our kids, parents and coaches have a great experience.”