Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The NPH International Soccer Tournament

Mexico v. Guatemala

The tournament -- or torneo -- is in town. I've mentioned it to you about a million different times, but what does it mean?

For starters, NPH (if you didn't know) is an international nonprofit operating children's homes in nine different countries. Our homes in Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Bolivia may each do things slightly differently, but they are all part of the much larger Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos family. Together, right this second, 3,800 kids are being cared for by these nine homes. In the past 50 years, NPH has raised a total of nearly 17,500 children.

In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on intra-NPH work. Kids from each home meet up for leadership workshops. House directors hold annual conferences. Last year, I even attended a Home Correspondent workshop in Nicaragua, where representatives from each NPH house came together to better define and standardize our job role across all nine countries.

NPH is shifting to a more global focus, and a focus that strives to drive home the idea of brothers and sisters around the globe.

In 2007, with this idea in mind, a beloved tradition was born: the NPH International Soccer Tournament.

For one week every December, one NPH home hosts teams from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. (Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru, and Bolivia are left out at the moment. Sorry -- you're just too far away!) Each house brings a girls' team and a boys' team, and being selected for your home's team is both an honor and an amazing travel opportunity.

The weeklong tournament is jam packed. Games go from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Community meals, nightly activities, time for new friends, and an end-of-week excursion fill in the rest of the schedule. (Using their impressive time-management skills, these teenage players also find time to pick up boyfriends and girlfriends from other NPH homes. Who's impressed, haha?) The most anticipated moment (of course) is watching the week's champions receive their gigantic trophies.

I'm a lucky girl to be at NPH Honduras the year we host the tournament. The torneo is a big big deal -- and a healthy reminder that the NPH community exists far beyond my office walls.

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