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Vittles in the Valley

In the lower divisions of professional soccer in the United States, there is a wide disparity of income. There is no minimum salary and athletes below MLS are not represented by a union, at this time. Athletes in the USL – Championship can make as much as $2,000-3,000/month for an eight-month contract or sometimes as little as $500/month. Often times, teams will also work out a housing arrangement to offer housing for the athletes as well.

So, when a chaplain at the USL levels offers to buy a meal for a player or coach or staff member — it means a lot. Recently, Chaplain Isidro Piña shared about an opportunity that he and his church had to serve the Rio Grande Valley Toros FC players.

RGV FC Toros came to my church for lunch prepared by some of the members of my congregation. We had a great time. I got to talk to some of them and got to know them better since they have new players. It also helped them see what I do. 

Isidro Piña, chaplain Rio Grande Valley Toros FC
Isidro (gray top, right) prays over the team and church members before the meal

For a club like RGV Toros FC, few athletes will ever call McAllen, TX home. Occasionally, an athlete might come out of the community in working toward ‘making it,’ but in general RGV will be a stop over — with coaches and athletes here for a while on their way to another team or another place. It can be here, though, that a chaplain and a church and a community can have a profound impact on a young person’s life. I still remember Isidro’s first impression when he met the players for the first time,

I walked in and thought, ‘Where are the players? These are all kids…’

Isidro Piña, on his first time meeting the team

Much of the work at the USL level involves looking after simple basic needs — a meal, housing, an ESL (English as Second Language) class, a ride home from the airport or hospital, a phone call to family letting them know their son is ok after surgery. And, as pastor of a local church, the opportunity as chaplain serving the team means an opportunity to mobilize the church to serve and support, as well.

RGV players pose with the church members who cooked a meal for the team

We have plans of having a Bible study. Some players asked for cooking classes. Others asked for an opportunity to work with low-income children. This is a good start. Our cook said he’s willing to host a cooking class. One of the players wants to do an English Bible study and I will lead the Spanish one. These are plans. Let’s pray they come to pass 

Isidro Piña, on what the future with RGV may hold

When you support Soccer Chaplains United — you enable us to serve the young people and the coaches and the support staff around them. Your financial and prayer support allows us to serve — a basic need of giving a meal or a deeper need of helping to provide spiritual food.

Soccer Chaplains United is non-profit, 501(c)3 and depends upon the financial support of our partners to carry out our work of developing chaplaincy, counseling, and community service across all levels of soccer. Please consider making a contribution today to help us continue growing our work. Click the PushPay logo below or text soccerchaplains to 77977 to make a secure electronic donation. You can also mail a donation to Soccer Chaplains United, PO Box 102081 Denver, CO 80250.

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