RSL Women partner with Bridges to America for unique humanitarian trip

April 15th, 2015 | by Shawn Blymiller

(Courtesy photo: Adam Miles/Bridges to America)

Imagine for a second that you are standing in a West African village in Ghana, a place that has very little in terms of material goods. A young boy walks up to you and politely asks for a soccer ball that you don’t have — What would you do? How would you react?

This is exactly what happened to Adam Miles, the founder Bridges to America. Miles and six players of the Real Salt Lake Women’s squad will go to Lagos, Nigeria for a soccer tournament called The Bridges Cup, sponsored by his company, in May 2015. The group is not traveling thousands of miles just to play soccer —they are using this as a humanitarian and service project.

Miles was in Ghana on a humanitarian trip rescuing kids called “Fishing Children” when a young boy named Borges made a simple request for a soccer ball. The simple moment inspired Miles to expand the reach of his company to reunite African families that are separated by war, famine, and poverty — and also to use the world’s game to serve others.

Last March, Adam took his daughter’s soccer team to Nigeria to put together a soccer clinic and to relate with these people through soccer. His daughter and her teammates were just 13 years old at the time. They have told their own versions of the story from deciding to go, raising funds, traveling in a foreign country, serving while in Nigeria, and finally participating in soccer clinics that included a game against the Osun state-selected Osun Babes.

Save-a-Thon is part of Bridges to America’s Mission Statement: saving lives by changing futures. The full story has been written in a book and continues to be written on a blog at this website. The book is titled “We Are One” and can be downloaded on his blog. I greatly enjoyed reading the young girl’s insight and perspective of the trip.

Here is an excerpt from “We are One:”

“The clinic was the part when we all started to really engage with the kids there. To watch these Nigerian kids and these amazing American young women engage with each other through their favorite sport was surreal for me. To see this beautiful sight made me indescribably happy and made the hundreds of hours, the thousands of dollars, and the tens of thousands of airline miles I spent all worth it. This is also when I think the girls started to see the beauty of this whole effort as the walls of race, gender, nationality, and language came down”

I had the opportunity to sit down with Adam Miles and ask him what his connection was to Africa and to Real Salt Lake Women’s soccer team. Here are a few quotes from what he had to say about this trip.

“My hope is that these African girls are inspired by American girls, using a commonality to encourage and motivate kids.”

“I want these girls to relate with the Real Salt Lake Women as women, as athletes, and as moms.”

What is Bridges To America?

Bridges To America, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) entity started by Adam Miles in 2004 with the primary mission of aiding African families. Originally this aid was provided in the form of reunification services for family members who have been separated by poverty, war, famine, etc. and are stuck in Africa. Frequent flyer miles and/or money are raised and donated to provide airfare to legally join a family member living in the United States. To date, more than seven families have been reunited through these efforts and all of these families are working hard to make the most of their opportunity to live in the United States. The joy of reuniting families is very fulfilling but the opportunities to help weren’t coming often enough. A decision was made to take a more proactive approach in aiding African families and Save-A-Thon For Africa was born.

Miles speaks with so much passion and adoration for his experiences in Africa, and with the people he has had contact. He is trying to change the futures for those he can reach through Bridges to America. He wants to continue to grow his outreach by using the world’s game as the common interest and love.

Salt City FC will feature future posts from members of the RSL Women as they describe their experiences in Nigeria.

If you are looking for an opportunity to contribute and help with this great cause, you can participate in a soccer clinic this Friday, April 17 at Layton High School, hosted by the RSL Women from 5-7 p.m. MT.

Shawn Blymiller

Shawn Blymiller

I was a guest host on a weekly podcast called "The Jockularity Show" in preparation of the World Cup. It was there that Rick Aaron from Channel 4 News coined me a "Soccer Geek". I played 2 seasons in the Premier Developmental League, 1 year with BYU and 1 year with the Ogden Outlaws. I also played soccer in college and was named to the All-conference teams. Soccer is my passion, it is in my makeup and in my DNA. I am staying involved with the beautiful game as much as I possibly can. I have done the play by play and the color commentating for games in the PDL, and the Western Athletic Conference for UVU. Follow my posts about RSL, RSL Women, Real Monarchs, UVU Soccer, BYU Soccer, and just about everything else in the footballing world. #COYG Arsenal!
Shawn Blymiller

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