Sports is a vital physical activity that propels development, fun and produces valuable skills. The 2021 Olympics is around the corner, so we rounded up five Compassion kids involved in sports in their various countries.
Carmen, 16, is a national gymnastics champion who portrays her love for God and sports exceptionally despite facing barriers like poverty, hunger and limited opportunities.
At the age of 6, Carmen’s mother heard that there was a Compassion church partner near her home that provided support for people in need, and she immediately enrolled Carmen in the program in Peru. “When Carmen joined the Compassion program, she had malnutrition and was very shy; however, she [always showed] what she [could] do with her legs and pirouettes. I was terrified to see a little girl so flexible and without pain,” said Maria, Carmen’s Compassion tutor. “We noticed that Carmen was happy doing that, and we encouraged her mom to look for places where Carmen could show her abilities!”
When Carmen was ten years old, she officially joined a gymnastic club and trained there for three years. “I was [thrilled] when I started to train in that club. I met many talented girls, and we started to compete in different parts of Lima. It was during one competition that I met a trainer, and she said to my mom that she wanted to take me to the Peruvian Gymnastics Federation,” said Carmen. “I was terrified.”
Carmen’s mom accepted, and Carmen started to train at the federation for free. But it now got to a point where the money at home was tight. “I remember Carmen was very sad; she told me she couldn’t continue with gymnastics because her parents didn’t have money to pay for her transportation. But we told her to go on, that God would provide for her if He was leading her way,” said Maria.
Thanks to the immense support of Compassion, Carmen received a budget for meals and transportation to the federation, and she was able to continue her training. In 2017, Carmen was selected to participate in the South American Games in Ecuador. Also, in the same year, she competed in the national championship of rhythmic gymnastics and won gold medals in hoop, ball, ribbon, clubs, and group routine, becoming the lead junior champion in this sport.
Carmen expresses her appreciation to God, her parents, the federation, the church and Compassion’s sponsorship. “God and my family. God has done so much in my life. He is helping me to overcome my fears and shyness, and I am better every day. I am who I am thanks to Him,” said Carmen. “I am also thankful to my parents because they make an effort to cook my lunch every day very early in the morning and pick me up late at night when I finish my training.”
Carmen’s father works in construction, and her mother is a housewife. “We have economic limitations, but we are thankful for her skills. We cannot give her money or new clothes, but we give our support and time to see her [shine]. She likes this sport, and we will do anything to support and see her happy,” said Carmen’s mother. “Since I saw my little girl doing some contortions and stretches, I knew she was going to stand out,” said Carmen’s father. “We always tell her to pray to God and give Him the honour in everything she does.”
Today, Carmen is the only Christian gymnast at the federation, and she is sharing God’s love with her teammates.
Here are some other Compassion beneficiaries involved in sports…
Jeronimo, 5, is an emerging professional skater in Colombia.
Karla, 12, is an emerging soccer star in El Salvador.
Bassiratou, 20, is a striker in the Burkina Faso national floorball team.
Jacquiline, 12, is an emerging ping pong player in Indonesia.