After the boys received the equipment, they trudged up a nearby hill to the practice field, which was full of pockmarks and dips and even a handful of grazing cows. But the field had a spectacular view of Lake Nakuru and the valley below. By the end of the week, Rawlings and Wood grew used to the lack of a proper football field. They were focused on the task at hand.
Wood and Rawlings made several visits to the Hutch House orphanage, where a few of the Kenyan players lived. They also toured the home of 14-year-old John Ndentu, who lived in a three-bedroom house, the walls of which were made of a mixture of mud and cow manure. The house had no electricity or running water. The toilet was a hole in the ground outside. The bath was a large bowl of cold water, also outside.
"The little things make them happy," Rawlings said of the Kenyan boys in general. "They don't want anything. I feel like they're happy with everything. Sometimes I feel guilty, just knowing the things that I have."
'Under the lights'
The FCA provided extra food and clothing for the Kenyan players — and also some hope.
"My dream," Potter told the Kenyan boys, "is for one of you to make it to the United States, to play high school football, to play college football and to make it to the NFL.
"Can you imagine the kind of impact you could have here in Nakuru if that were to happen? Can you imagine the kind of impact you could make on this community? We could have a football stadium, right here, under the lights!"
Wood and Rawlings said for that dream to become a reality would be difficult. Although a few of the Kenyan athletes stood out — James N'dung'u, 15, looked like a future high school running back and John Ndentu, 14, could hold his own as a defensive end — they lack the infrastructure of constant coaching. They also lack the abundance of nutrients found in an American diet.
But there were two things they did not lack: love for the game and a desire to learn it.
The FCA group went on a safari before working with the Kenyans. The safari included sightings of baboons, lions, zebras, rhinos, giraffes and a leopard.
"The safari was awesome," Wood said. "But that's not what drew me to Kenya. I just kind of fell in love with these kids."
Joey Potter, regional director of mission trips for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, plans on returning to Nakuru this summer and continuing the football ministry. Those interested in participating in this or other sports ministry trips can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other information is available at fca.org.