Father William Ca√±ón is a Colombian missionary in Cameroon who transforms into a soccer coach every Sunday, helping to bring joy to some 60 local children through sport and camaraderie.
“After going to the Eucharist, we gather and provide a time of Christian formation; then, with my limited knowledge of sports, we play soccer,” Father Ca√±ón told Pablo Romero of El Tiempo, a Colombian daily.
The missionary is a fan of Independiente Santa Fe, the Bogota football team which won the Copa Sudamericana last year. He has been a missionary to Mamfe, in southwestern Cameroon, since 2014.
Por intermedio del Padre William Ca√±ón los ni√±os de Fontem, Camer√∫n aprenden a jugar al f√∫tbol con la piel del León pic.twitter.com/KSA7uX94XI
— Ind. Santa Fe (@SantaFe) April 4, 2016
When he arrived in Cameroon he was assigned to a parish where the first evangelization has yet to be done: he found a people who still have customs such as polygamy, and a culture of machismo. They face disease, a shortage of food, and a lack of electricity and safe water.
But Father Ca√±ón noticed the boys in Mamfe had a special love for soccer, and so he decided to take advantage of this opportunity to bring them closer to God. Every Sunday, he says Mass before roughtly 60 boys play soccer. Many of the children walk for up to three hours to get there, and the matches are held on a dirt field with makeshift goals, and they always begin with a prayer.
“Seeing them arrive is an unimaginable sight. Some come barefoot, but with great joy on their faces. Most of them are spontaneous and sincere boys. And, above all, they're grateful, because it's the only time they have to have fun and dream. Despite the circumstances and difficulties, they're always there,” the priest told El Tiempo.
“Here the children are happy with little, and with the lives they have,” he added.
During the week, the priest says Mass every day at 6 am. Then he heads off to the local hospital where he spends almost the entire day as the chaplain.
Independiente Santa Fe was moved hearing about the missionary's work. During a trip to Colombia, he asked for donations for his Cameroon team and they gave him soccer balls and Santa Fe uniforms for the boys.
“I'm very grateful to God for this beautiful opportunity that he's given me. And to Santa Fe, for the uniforms. From here, I continue to support my team,” he told El Tiempo.