CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There may not be an obvious link between soccer and spirit, but two George Washington High School student-athletes are hoping to build that bridge in December when they travel to Africa for a mission trip.
Micah Pauley, a junior, and Riley Santen, a freshman, will be two of 11 people serving as support staff at a soccer camp run by Young Life Africa -- a Christian organization dedicated to helping African youth develop a sense of faith, according to the Young Life Africa website.
There's just one thing: the camp has only three soccer balls for its 350 campers and none of the campers have cleats, Pauley said. He and Santen are seeking soccer gear donations to take to the camp, which is just outside of Nairobi.
The two students, who attend River Ridge Church in Charleston and are part of Young Life at GW, have set a high goal for themselves. The two want to send 500 soccer balls and 5,000 pairs of cleats to the camp, which would then be distributed to other Young Life Africa camps throughout the country.
They have already received 15 balls and 28 pairs of cleats from their teammates at GW, Pauley said.
The intrepid students are no strangers to other countries. Pauley lived in China for a year with his family, and Santen has visited Kenya to go on a safari -- a trip to view east African wildlife.
Pauley said his time in China "struck a nerve."
"From living here in Charleston in America, thinking I was just going to go through life living the American dream," Pauley said. "In China, it was like there was a whole other world out there."
Since then, Pauley has been itching to get to Kenya, a journey that members of the church have taken for the past three years.
Santen said his experience in Kenya, though recreational, had a strong impact on his desire to do mission work there.
"I saw the poverty and all the kids and how little they had," he said. "I want to touch them so they can realize there is a bigger picture, and they can have a great life."