A BVSA Academy is centered around competitive soccer training and competition. We have approximately 30-36 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 academies consist of a 15-18 member JV team of "Rhinos" (ages 10-13) and a 15-18 member Varsity team of "Rhinos" (ages 14-18). 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 exsists 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 eventually choosing to follow Him. Our approach to teaching the boys about Jesus, in addition to daily devotions, is through relationships. They watch our families operate on a daily basis. They see firsthand how a husband treats his wife and kids. We love and care for the boys as if they are our own - aiming to show them God's love through a parenting approach.
Sports training (read below) 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.
During daily devotions, we cover a wide range of topics. Typically we will try to stay on the same theme for 1 month at a time. Often we will use a rotation of bible teachers, who may lead the daily devotional for one month at a time. This method works well and allows the boys to continue hearing the same theme for a longer period of time.
The daily devotion time covers a wide range of topics throughout the year. We teach basics such as Who is God, What is the Bible, summaries of the Old and New Testaments, the life of Jesus, the difference between God, Son, and Holy Spirit, the church, friendship, sin, salvation, integrity, faith in action, swimming against the current, how to handle test and trials, and much more. Often, the devotions take a turn of their own, based on current needs that the boys may have, such as sickness or death in the family, abuse/addiction challenges at home, or struggles with pornography. We are open, honest, and real 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.
Especially for young boys, we believe that sports can be 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 on one another, and in your coaches. With that trust in place, the time off the field such as team meetings, devotions, excursions, group time, etc, becomes much more meaningful.
Athletically speaking, we set our goals high. We are a high-level competition academy, and we believe in high-intensity training. We use weight training, plyometric training, and cross-fit training methods to reach maximum potential in our athletes. While our boys may come from an unknown village of extreme poverty, their growing reputation as a high-level futbol club can bring a village a true sense of pride. In addition, we hope that it will eventually open up more opportunities for our boys.
The Rhinos in Guatemala have established a reputation as a strong soccer academy. Having played in tournaments around Guatemala 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. While we are typically much smaller than our opponents, being in top physical condition and technically sound allows us to compete with anyone.
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 very strongly 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 full-time teachers. 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 all of the boys who come through. We work to create an environment where goys who NEVER did their homework, or even cared at all about their studies at all, can begin to gain a desire to do well in school. Often times, parents in villages such as these do not see the importance in education, as they are simply waiting for their sons to reach the age where the can carry a full-time job and help the family financially.
Much of our role is to encourage and promote academic ambition. To that end, the education programs have been a huge success, as we see the Rhinos working hard to improve their grades and begin working towards academic goals.
We also work hard to build friendships with the boys' local schools, so that we can work together in helping each boy reach their academic potential.
Nutrition - Feeding Program:
Poverty and geography - simply being born in a certain place - leads to extreme malnutrition. For example, in the village where BVSA Guatemala is located, tortillas are the most common food source locally because it is the cheapest way to "fill up". Sadly, for most of the boys in that academy, a tortilla would be their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, many of the boys don't eat anything until dinner, where they would then eat a few tortillas to "trick" their bodies into feeling full. This is a common theme in all countries/areas of poverty.
Through each BVSA Training Table, our Rhinos are able to eat a large, nutritious lunch every day! Including all of the boys and our staff, the Training Table feeds anywhere between 700-800 meals per month, per academy. This is a huge blessing to the boys, and has led to significant improvements in the classroom, skin conditions, and overall health.
We 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 showers, which gives us a unique opportunity to teach hygiene to the boys at the academy. Obviously, hygiene is a huge challenge in most impoverished areas. Families in the villages do not have showers, and their bathrooms are similar to an out-house, so the majority of our boys had never showered before coming to the boys academy (only splash-washed in an outdoor concrete sink). In fact, the first day we opened our original academy, we asked who had taken a shower before, and only 1 local boy raised his hand.
Hygiene is an area of ministry all by itself. In the communities where we have ministries, we have helped countless people with medical needs, and unfortunately many of the situations that were treated 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 simplistic, 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 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 true 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 always 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 believe it is our role to 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. We have also found that simply being intimidated to go knock on doors and apply for jobs keeps many from finding work.
We believe that 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. All of our BVSA Academies are committed to help every Rhino achieve their academic and career goals.
While the focus of our academies is to reach and change lives within the demographic of the boys, we also aim to make the most of our facilities by using them for other things. These purposes are based upon having learned and recognized the needs firsthand:
*Recreational leagues for children all ages: We want to continue to build relationships with all of the children in our communities, and share the love of Jesus with all the kids. Additionally, we don't want the kids in the villages to perceive the Academy or the Rhinos to be an elite place/group that they cannot relate to. Therefore, we have a steady flow of rec leagues open to all ages throughout the year.
*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 activities: We regularly host girls soccer camps at BVSA locations. We love the girls in our communities, and want them to feel welcome here! While they don't know it, in many ways this ministries are for them, as our goal is to build for them godly young men who will forever change the way that women & girls are treated in their community.