A BVSA Academy is centered around competitive soccer training and competition. We have approximately 36 boys in each academy at all times, the idea being that we can "go deep" with each of them in an effort to instill longterm, life-changing values. We chose this approach, as opposed to an "open to the public" model, which would have allowed us to minister to hundreds of kids, but on more surface level as opposed to a deeper relational level. In addition to the daily schedule with the boys, the missionary families and staff invest much of their time tending too the needs of their entire families.
Most boys enter the academy around the age of 10 or 11 and graduate around the age of 18, giving them 7 to 8 years in the program. This gives us ample time to work towards transformational change, and our prayer is that during these critical years the generational cycles of abuse related to poverty or geography can be broken. During their time in the academy the boys participate in an intense and focused program combining highly-competitive sports, classroom education, devotionals, weight-training, hygiene, and nutrition. Most importantly, we aim to teach the boys about following Jesus, respecting women, serving their community, and becoming loving husbands and fathers.
The Boy's Academy aims to help train up young boys to become godly men, husbands and fathers. We believe this can be made possible through learning about Jesus and studying the Bible. Our approach to this varies depending what country and context we are in, but in all cases we believe it must happen through relationships. They watch our families operate on a daily basis. They see firsthand the dynamic of a Christian home. We love and care for the boys as if they are our own - aiming to show them God's love through a parenting approach.
Soccer training is a tool we believe God has given us to reach the boys. While we do take the training element seriously, and aim to build highly competitive sports programs, the overall goal is much broader and more important than soccer.
Daily devotions (daily bible teaching) are one of the most important things we do. Typically we will try to stay on the same theme for a month at a time. Often we will use a rotation of bible teachers, depending on the missionaries and staff we have available. We include training and curriculum in this area during our missionary training program.
The daily devotion time covers a wide range of topics, to help establish a biblical foundation, as well as invite the Holy Spirit to lead as he wishes. Often, the devotions take a turn of their own, based on current needs that may be going on, such as sickness or death in the family, abuse/addiction challenges at home, or struggles with certain sins. We are open, honest, and real with one another as we approach these topics.
These times together talking about faith and life have led to some of the sweetest moments in BVSA history. We have seen many hearts softened, minds expanded, and lots of decisions to follow Jesus.
For boys and young men, sports are a powerful opportunity to teach about more important things. The obvious areas related to sports are that of character, honesty, teamwork, and responsibility. But more than that, intense sports training builds trust for one another, and for your coaches. With that trust in place, the time off the field such as bible teaching, team meetings, excursions, group time, and whatever "life situations" becomes much more meaningful.
On the field, we set high goals. We aim to compete at a high level, and we believe in high-intensity training. We use weight training, plyometric training, and cross-fit training methods to help the boys reach their maximum potential. While our boys may come from an unknown village of extreme poverty, over time they grow a reputation as a high-level futbol club, which can bring a true sense of pride to their village. In addition, we help our players pursue further opportunities, such as playing collegiately and professionally.
The Rhinos in both Guatemala and Honduras have established reputations as a strong soccer academies. Having played in tournaments around Central America for the last decade, as well as in the USA, both our JV and Varisty teams have won trophies at all levels, and in various categories. In addition, several Rhinos have gone on to play college soccer in the US, as well as professionally in Guatemala and Honduras.
All BVSA facilities include an education center, used for tutoring students who attend school, and teaching reading/writing and basic skills to students who do not attend school. We emphasize the importance of education, and believe an environment of quiet study time and guidance is a tremendous benefit to the boys.
Between the missionaries and local staff, all academies have tutors and study hall hours available to the boys. Knowing the environment that most boys living in tough places go home to, it is certain that time devoted to studying – with assistance and encouragement – is something that many of them have never received before.
We see tremendous academic improvements in the boys who come through the academy. We also work hard to build friendship with the local schools, so that we can work together in helping each boy reach their academic potential. To that end, the education programs have been a success, as we see the Rhinos working hard to improve their grades and begin working towards academic goals.
Nutrition - Feeding Program:
Poverty and malnutrition tend to go hand in hand. Through each BVSA Training Table, our Rhinos are able to eat a large, nutritious meal every day. Including the Rhinos and our staff, each academy's Training Table feeds anywhere between 700-800 meals per month. This is a huge blessing to the boys, and has led to significant improvements in their overall health, as well as improvement in the classroom.
We always need help with this facet of the ministry, as it is our largest line item in each academy's monthly budget. If you are interested in making a donation to help out, please be sure to note "nutrition" on your donation. Thank you!
Each BVSA Academy has a locker room equipped with clean bathrooms and showers. This gives us a unique opportunity to improve hygiene, which is a huge challenge in most impoverished areas.
This is an area of ministry all by itself. Working in impoverished countries, we help countless people with medical needs, and unfortunately many of the situations that were treat could have been prevented with basic hygiene habits. All of the boys in our programs learn how to take care of themselves, bathe with soap and shampoo, use deodorant, cut toenails and fingernails, etc. While it may sound simple, this is a very important facet of the ministry intended to teach important habits the boys will hold on to for the rest of their lives, and pass on their children. All of which is part of the longterm goal to reduce health issues related to poverty.
In Guatemala, for example, 90% of children do not go to school beyond the 6th grade. This is usually the case because either the family cannot afford the uniforms and school supplies necessary to go on, or because the child must now work a full-time job to help support his/her family. Either way, this statistic is directly correlated with poverty.
For every boy enrolled in our Academies who shows reasonable potential academically, we do all we can to sponsor them to go forward with their studies. We work together with local schools to help the boys continue beyond middle school. And for the ones who show even more potential than that, we seek to find individual sponsors to help them go to trade school or even to university.
As the Rhinos graduate from middle school, high school, or career school, we also help them prepare for their career and also find employment. Unfortunately in areas of poverty, many people are unable to pursue their dreams and their potential simply because of lack of opportunity or assistance. Simply being intimidated to go knock on doors and apply for jobs can also keep many from finding work.
By helping young men further their education in ways that would not be possible otherwise, they can eventually help to lift their communities out of the bondages of poverty. BVSA Academies are committed to help every Rhino achieve their academic and career goals.
While the focus of our academies is primarily dialed into evangelism and discipleship with the Rhinos, we also aim to make the most of our facilities by using them for other things. These initiatives and others are based on culture and community needs:
*Recreational leagues for children all ages: In order to build relationships with all of the children in our communities, and share the love of Jesus with all the kids, we open up summer leagues for kids of all ages. This also gives the Rhinos a needed break in between seasons. Many Rhinos love to come and volunteer during the summer Rec leagues.
*Men’s league indoor soccer & outdoor soccer: Hosting men's tournaments has been an incredible way to reach out and build relationships with local men. It also provides an opportunity to show them that the boys ministry (and facility) is not intended to alienate them or work against them.
*Girls team: We love the girls in our communities, and want them to feel welcome here! Depending on staff and facilities, we run seasonal girls programs with a much reduced schedule, usually one practice per week that included a bible study, and then a weekly game.