Nov. 11, 2021

It’s About Much More Than Soccer with Aaron Blue, CEO of The Charis Project

It’s About Much More Than Soccer with Aaron Blue, CEO of The Charis Project

In Episode 55, Aaron Blue, CEO of The Charis Project in Thailand, talks with Phil about how he ended up working with people on the Thailand/Burma border, how soccer is an integral part of his ministry, why soccer is such a powerful cross-cultural...

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In Episode 55, Aaron Blue, CEO of The Charis Project in Thailand, talks with Phil about how he ended up working with people on the Thailand/Burma border, how soccer is an integral part of his ministry, why soccer is such a powerful cross-cultural tool, and how his soccer coaches in his early years impacted him for reasons you wouldn’t expect. Specifically, Aaron discusses:

  • His story, how he developed his passion for leadership and ministry (1:53)
  • How The Charis Project is using soccer to transform lives of the youth and others on the Thailand/Burma border (9:42)
  • Why soccer is such a powerful tool for cross-cultural leadership development and ministry (27:06)
  • The raw and vulnerable lesson he learned from his coaches in his early playing days, which have inspired him four decades later (32:45)
  • His #1 Leadership book recommendation of all time (46:41)

Resources and Links from this Episode


Phil: Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thanks again for your download. Thanks again for being a part of this show. We couldn't do it without you and I absolutely love being able to bring incredible guests to you. I'm Phil Darke, your host. And Paul Jobson is my co-host when we do our halftime shows.

And I know Paul would love to be here today, especially because we have a great guest here, Aaron Blue, he is the CEO of the Charis Project. And before we get to Aaron, I just want to remind you that you can join the how soccer explains leadership Facebook group as well as if you have any questions or you have any thoughts for me or Paul, go ahead and email them. and go ahead and rate and review the show while you're at it that helps people to learn about the show. It also also helps people to get here, but most importantly, if you think this is helping you and hopefully it is then share it with others, word of mouth is the best [00:01:00] way to get.

To get this podcast out there far and wide. And I have no doubt. It's been helping me to learn from these great people. Hopefully it's helping you in so many different ways. So without more from me today on that Aaron Blue,

[00:01:14] Aaron: how are you doing? I'm doing well. I'm doing well. Thank you, Phil.

[00:01:19] Phil: Now you're coming to us today from really, basically at the Thailand/Burma border and doing work their incredible work we're going to be getting into today, but why don't you just tell a little bit, share your story a little bit, how you ended up in Thailand, what, what you're doing over there and how you developed a passion for soccer leadership, and really helping the vulnerable, vulnerable communities to.

[00:01:43] Aaron: Sure. Well, the simplest way to say how I got over here is it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I was living in California and that it is an interesting transitional point in my life. One of my. Many [00:02:00] brothers was in Thailand taking a gap year in his university and met a group of leaders, but indigenous Christian leaders up on the mountain here. It's it's near the border a little bit further away from the border than I am right now.

A group of, of indigenous hill tribe Christian leaders. And they were interested in what he had to say about the love of God and grace and, and, and, and how that affects. How we should lead people and how we shouldn't work with people. And he called me up and said, my brother called me up and said, Hey, Aaron this is more your specialty than mine.

How about you come out out here. I know you're in a weird place in your life and maybe this, maybe this can be a proper channel. And so I came out and that was what, 15 years ago, 14, 15 years ago, something [00:03:00] like that. It all kinds of re kind of runs together now. Came out and met with the leaders and hit it off, fell in love.

We started doing training leadership, training and Bible study and, and, and, and then I came back to the U S and then back and forth between the U S and Thailand for several years working my normal day job. But which at the time was construction. And while they're working with them, I noticed, Hey, these guys are taking care of children who aren't their own.

I asked, Hey, what's up with that? What's up with that? Well, they're orphans and we're taking care of them and we usually don't have enough food and we're just doing the best that we can. And I said, well, I can't fix everything, [00:04:00] but maybe there's something my wife and I can do to help support this. So I came home and my wife and I Corinne we talked about it and said, yeah, let's see what we can do.

And so we started asking for donations, we gave from what, what we had to support and Started working with the leaders on the, on this, not the other side anymore on this side to develop models and improve care and, and just do a better job together. As we thought together, as we learned the culture, as we understood the situation better and better developed a really beautiful model of, of a self-sustaining orphanage, running small family businesses in the community, things like that.

And well, that was going on in that process has started to realize that none of them were orphans. It's like, oh maybe that was lost in translation. I thought these kids were all orphans. And he said, oh, they're poverty orphans. Their parents are too poor to take care of them and there's all this problem and this [00:05:00] education and all of this, they just, they just can't do it.

They need us to take care of them because there's no other option. And I said, okay, okay. That, that fit my marketing model back in the us. And but as, as things went on, I just started to see more and more. Questions come up and it's like, Jesus found a thorn to jam in my side and just kept on asking, saying, okay, what's going on?

What's the story with this kid? What's the story with this kid what's going on with their family? And it just came to a head. It came to a point where as none of the kids with us were orphans, they all had. They all have different kinds of stories and it was, they were, they were a mass, but one kind of mess or another.

And what w what came out of that was a question that Jesus asked me, which was, Hey, Aaron, if you were in this kind of situation and the situation that these families are with your [00:06:00] kids, by the way at, at that point, I think I had three. Now I've got six. So I've got some kids for him to be talking to me about.

And he said, if, what would you pray for if you were in this kind of situation that these families are in. And, and I didn't like my answer. My answer was, I would never pray for the thing that I'm providing. I think, wait, what does that do? What does that say about what I'm doing? The mission I'm doing? The, the, the funding that the promoting and all of that, what I'm doing to these kids, I would never pray for the thing that I'm providing the solution that I'm providing says, well, what would you pray for?

I would, well, I would pray for a community, a friend, a mentor, something around me to lift me up and hold my hand to help me walk forward in strength and wisdom through the crisis. [00:07:00]Together as a family, so that we're on the other side, stronger wiser with friends, with community together as a family, walking into the future.

It's that, that's what I would pray for, for me and mindful. And he said, did I do that? It was, it was almost audible. It was such a, such a slap to the face and established of a heart. Well, Aaron do unto others as you would have them do unto you and say, well, shoot, I've got to. Pivot the whole organization that we've been working on for several years now and everything's changing and around then we moved out here within, within a couple of years of that transition that emotional and mental and strategic transition.

My wife and I moved out here with, with our four kids. She was, she was six months pregnant with number five. [00:08:00] And we launched on the ground here and within, within a year, we were starting programs for Keeling and strengthening families in order to keep families together, give families the wisdom and the courage to raise their own kids in their own home, to be the heroes, God designed them to be.

[00:08:24] Phil: So, yeah, definitely. And so I know that in the, we, we did an entire interview it folks, if you're interested in getting the details and the nitty gritty on the family strengthening and the great work that Aaron and the cares project are doing in Thailand, Burma, you can go check out the interview that Brandon Stiver and I did on the think orphan podcast.

That's just think or you can find it wherever you're listening to this. And I forget it's a hundred and episode, 170 something it's recent. So go check that out for sure. It's a really good interview that we talks about all the details and the nitty gritty of that. But what I want to [00:09:00]focus on today is, and we talked a little bit about it in that interview, but I want to go deeper today into the soccer side of things, because our football in, in in the neck of the woods but the, the way that you're using.

In the context of the connecting in the context of the ministry that you're doing to strengthen families, to strengthen the communities and to really connect with the lives of people. So can you talk about the origins of that, how you how you started that and, and really what you're learning from that soccer side of the, of the ministry?

[00:09:32] Aaron: Sure. That I'd be happy to the. I'm especially happy too, because it wasn't my idea. And so I can give, I can give the credit elsewhere. When we deinstitutionalized the orphanage that we were running, when we were re reunited all of the kids with their families, we had many, many years of strong, deep [00:10:00] relationship up in the mountains.

Up in that community at high risk, highly respected. And we had land. We, I mean, we've got houses where the orphanage was and we've got, it's like, we've got a lot of assets here, relational and physical. What are we going to do with them now? Because we're not doing what we have been doing. Let's see what fits here.

So I gathered together a large group of, of community leaders, of political leaders, of pastors, of, of teachers, of elders like tribal elders, things like that. And just worked on getting a big group of people together who cared about the community, who cared about things. What, what the state of the state of families, the state of the community, and started [00:11:00] asking them started a discussion and it took a number of meetings saying, okay, what's the biggest, what's the biggest danger to families in this community.

What in you guys's mind is destroying the families and the children of this community. That's yours. I can come in and say, oh, let's do this, let's do this, but let's start with you guys. You guys know your homes, you know, your families, you know, your people, you know, your village, what do you guys see as the biggest issues?

And they said, oh, that's easy. It's true. It's drugs. It's that's that's no problem. I said, oh really? I know there is, there is a there is a drug. Gwen across the border and through Thailand and there's, there's all kinds of police action and the police catch catch hollow semi-trailers full of full of [00:12:00]methamphetamine.

And there's all kinds of all kinds of stuff going on, but the drug road. There's one, there's one drug in particular. It's it's it's, it's an amphetamine as a tablet form, amphetamine called Gabba it's in Thai. That means crazy pill or crazy medicine. And you. It's the cheap one and it's, what's brought across and the kids have access to it.

The families, the communities have access to it, and everyone takes the, to be strong, to be able to work and do more work. And the kids are using it like crazy. We found out that community health officers came and did health checks on the kids and like the whole first grade class in the mountain school, the, in the school up there, the whole first grade class tested positive for amphetamines.

Okay. Yeah, there's a problem [00:13:00] here, right? That's not small. And the parents didn't know what to do with it. The, the, the community doesn't know what to do with it. They don't know how to deal with that. And there've been programs and they've tried different kinds of things. They tried all kinds of stuff.

I said, okay, let's get together. The people here, the people in the community who have knowledge, who have seen drug use, the people who want to deal with this who see it as an issue and want to make a difference. Let's get all those people together now and have that conversation. And I sent them all home and said, okay, I want you to, we talked about it.

We said, okay, we're all on the same page. And I said, at the moments that here's the homework, come back in a month, we'll have another conversation. Come back in a month with each of you having three things that you've seen tried that don't work. And three things that you think might work. And then let's, let's all get back together and, and, and share what we found shared with fun.

And. We got, we all got back [00:14:00] together and, and it was interesting, the stuff that they said, they said, well, and these are pastors saying this, they're saying, well, guilt and manipulation from the pulpit shirt. Doesn't work. We've tried that. The, the, the kind of moral controlling that we know how to do that, that doesn't work.

And they listed off a number of other initiatives that seen that just don't work. And some of these guys used to be on the drugs. They used to be on Yaba and came off and and so they know what's involved. They know it from the inside and. They said, I said, okay, now what works? What have you seen that does work?

I said, well, we haven't really seen any programs, any official programs, anything like that, but it does work, but, but there is this one thing that we do. We, we put, we pull our money together and. We're able to do a kind of soccer tournament. Once a year, we're usually able to do it at least once a year, we [00:15:00] do it around the end of the year kind of thing.

And we're able to get together a little bit of organized play for about a month or so a couple of weeks and then some, and then some tournaments like different teams form in the villages and they play against you. When we've got this organized play, everyone stops doing drugs. That's what they said.

They said, we've noticed that when we, when we've got this organized plate, everyone stops doing drugs. They would rather play soccer than get high. Like all of them, the kids anyway, and said, well, what do you think you think if we had more soccer? That trend would continue. They say, oh, absolutely, absolutely.

We're absolutely 100% positive of that. And I said, what do you say? We try and make more play. [00:16:00] And they said, yes, yes, let's do that. I didn't tell them. They didn't know. I asked them later. I said, did you guys know? Did you have, do you know, do you have access to like, Do you look on the internet and see that soccer is a world renowned method of dealing with community drug issues.

And this is what huh? So they came up with it on their own. Just, just what convergent evolution had. I told them later, I said, Hey, you w you guys came up with this and this, but this is, this is something that has been demonstrated all over the world to have the effect that we're trying to do. So great job guys.

Great job. And so we started putting together a strategy. How do we do this? What do we do? How do we go about it? What are the end goals and how does, how does it integrate with the life of the community most effectively? [00:17:00] And first thing we said, we realized is the kid. So there's six villages up there that are relatively close together and say, okay, first thing is to, Work on getting the infrastructure of the villages to the point where they can all participate and to build relationships to get the interest and, and test the interest. And so we. Over 2020 built a soccer field in one of the, one of the villages that had nothing most of the villages have have some kind of playing field sufficient for sufficient, for a meaningful match, not full regulation size, but sufficient for a meaningful right.

And where you can get. A number of guys on the field and just go for it. But this one village had nothing. It just, it was just too much of it's in the mountains. It's in it's it's like, like this and houses are [00:18:00] built, built like that. And, and so, we. I managed to raise the money to, to buy some, buy some land in a, in a, in a valley that was already a little bit flat, but not quite big enough.

And it needed some work and every, every rainy season, the water just pours through there. So it's a swamp. Yeah, we got, we got to do some, get into some improvements here. And so, 20, 20 leading up to Christmas, we just put a drive on it and, and laid pipe, laid drainage pipe down the valley and, and cut the walls of the valley out farther and farther.

And so that was wide enough and laid in so that we could grade it. And so we had the dirt degraded and cover the pipe and all of that. And on Christmas day 2020, we were able to unveil it ribbon cutting and, and everyone was stoked. There was absolutely [00:19:00] stoked. And so that was, that was that step. COVID hit, everything's been a mess since then.

Everything's been a mess. They've been, they've shut down the villages and, and like, there's been. Like not allowed to go out and play soccer because you can get COVID from other people while wearing a mask in the mountains, playing soccer in an open field with the wind blowing. And so like, okay.

They're there they're there have always been rebels out there playing anyway. They go ahead and play. Anyway. However, what we've done is we've been building since before then, and since then building the structures and making the relationships because the pastors up here are super, super looking forward to building in and we've got the relationships.

We've got little things. We've got the thing started with with organized coaching because working with the six villages. [00:20:00] The kids are playing, they're playing on their own, but it's organized play. That makes the difference. It's not just a pickup game. That's fun. And that's good. But it's when the leadership comes in.

I mean, soccer teaches you leadership, but the leadership part of soccer that the coach brings is part of the draw part of what gets. It's it's part of what up here anyway, is the pull for bringing the kids off of the drugs. They say, Hey, yeah, we're, we're fine. Plan, plan with our buddies. And, and we'll, we'll play with our buddies and we'll do drugs with our buddies.

Yeah. Yeah. But when coach shows up we're, we're showing up and we're showing up to play and we're getting better and we're focusing on this and we don't have time for the drugs. And so it's [00:21:00] working it's we we've got that started step by step by step and working to build it out. And, and and it's the pastors who are stepping in it's pastors and elders and such who are stepping in and saying, Hey, we want to be the coaches.

Yeah. I want to be the coaches so that not only do we have the soccer and the drug prevention, we have the opportunity to be face to face. And, and the person of respect and authority and friendship to be the ones to speak into these kids' lives to not just coach them in soccer, but to coach them in Jesus, coach them in obedience, coach them in life, worth living, all of that stuff.

And some of these villages, some of the villages, some of the villages are at least nominally Christian below. And, and some of them are very much, not very much not there [00:22:00] they're, there are full on villages and for those not familiar, it's, it's old traditional tribal spirit worship, and you got the witchdoctors and stuff like that.

And the pastors there have said, I've, I've been there for many, many years and I've been in these villages and they're dark and they're, they're. Yeah. They're, they're, they're, they're really painful and depressing to see and go into and the evangelists and the pastors up on the mountain where the same culture, the same language.

And they've got a heart for this. So we've never been able to get in there with any effectiveness. Yeah. Let me say this. We believe that this is going to make the difference. They will open to this and they will be happy for this. And this will be the, the way that we minister the gospel into these holes of darkness that we [00:23:00] have not been able to touch with the gospel for years and years and years and years.

And we're stoked about this. Yeah. So that's, that's kind of how it came about and, and it's, and it's rolling forward step-by-step and bring it on the coaching were, as far as the structured program, our goal is aiming towards having the full structures and the schedule for, for developing kind of, inter village league play with, with annual tournament and stuff like that.

It's that's where we're heading with it. And everyone loves the idea, but. The stuff in the mountains runs especially when COVID is going on, runs slower than a California guy like me wants

[00:23:43] Phil: to do. Right? Yep. Well, I think it's slower than its California guys want, so, you know, but yeah. So, you know, I, I love that because it goes so much of that is what we talk about on this show.

The idea of [00:24:00] the impact of coaches. I was just talking to my wife about this last night, just the, the in with a couple other friends, as we're talking about different things in different ways to impact culture. And the coach has access that very few people in children's lives. Are given. So parents have access.

And I think behind parents, I think coaches are number two, as far as what parents allow into their children's lives and what children allow into their lives. They allow coaches because coaches, it's just, this, it's this weird thing where they just there's a trust. That's almost immediate, especially if they know the game and, and they are a, they're a mentor, like a built-in mentorship, but I think.

We often neglect that role as coaches. We see our role as we're teaching them the game. We're teaching them the skills. We're teaching them the tactics, the technique we're teaching them [00:25:00] how to get into formation and play a game and win a game and score a goal. And what we miss are all the life lessons and the leadership lessons and the, the things that they're going to use the rest of their life when the game is long gone.

And so what we're seeing here and what you're talking about there is not, I mean, it's a completely. Conversation. I think what we're helping them get away from in Thailand and Burma is, is drugs. Is some of these elements that they'd otherwise be in what we're dealing with in the suburbs of California and other parts of the United States.

And other parts of the Western civilization is really getting them, helping them understand, get them away from entitlement, getting them away from some of these other things that really will plague them in their character and integrity and leadership. If. Helped to see that. And I think that the, the, the lessons that we can teach here in this game are a huge step for [00:26:00] these coaches to be able to say, okay, how can I help that?

But it takes, it takes a lot of the coaches understanding that as well. Big reason we're doing this show bigger reason. I'm starting a coaching program called coaching the bigger game to help them understand what is that more, what is significance? Really? What is leadership? Really? What is, what is the point of all this?

If we're just seeing it as the point to win a game on Friday, we're missing so much. Right? So, but why do you think that? Why do you think that is. That soccer named the sport, but, but soccer in particular, especially on a global stage is such a powerful tool. Why are coaches given that access and, and why does it help in the, in a cross-cultural you're able to go in as an American and connect through this game in a way that you couldn't really, I venture to say with anything else pretty much.

And why do you think that is.

[00:26:56] Aaron: I think it goes back to [00:27:00] very early human development and not, not like individual human development, the development of culture sports came out of. The the, the, the, the ritualization of warfare, that's one of the sources of sports. And it, they, they were. A less lethal way to solve inter inter community disagreements.

And that's one of, one of the historical anthropological sources of sport especially team sport. But, and so that's something that I think is built deep into our grammar of understanding. That's something that we don't, the things like that we don't get away from. They, they, they stick with us in a deep, deep way for a long [00:28:00] generations and generations and generations.

And so there is, there is a, there is something about sport that. That triggers something deep in our minds and in our emotions that we don't even realize that that academics doesn't because sport is older than academics, sports older than school. Sport has to do with the survival of the community sport touches on, on much, much deeper parts of the brain and the psyche.

And. So parents allowing it there's there's this, I think there's part of it. Anyway, is this deep kind of anthropological ancestral memory in us that this is connected with the survival of the community. This is how you become a great one in the community. [00:29:00] This is how you support your community and become an and become.

Become the kind of person who can be of the greatest value in your, to, and in your community as a defender and as a strong person. And this is how you learn just like in battle. There's the thought of learning you, you, you do well in battle. You gain honor for your family and you learn how to lead.

You have to do, because life is on the line. You have to learn how to work together because life is on the line. And so sport is, one of the sources of it, the historical ecological sources is that combat is that is that life and death striving for the safety and the health of your family and your community.

And I think that carries over into it. And so. it's not a surprise that leadership and, and growth of the human being is so well attuned [00:30:00] in sport. It's so well impacted because it's, it's touching on things that are so deep in our minds. So deep in our psyche. That have to do with survival that have to do with the strengthening of the community, the strengthening of the individual for the sake of the community.

It has to do with having to work together and having to be the top at the same time, you have to lead and you have to have to work together because I know one on the field can, can slack. Everyone has to be striving to be the best. Otherwise, the team that is doing that will beat you. And, but everyone has to work together.

It's highly individualistic and highly teammate and highly, highly communal at the same time. and it's yeah, I just keep going back to it's the survival of the [00:31:00] community. It's that deep psyche thing I think is part of that as well. Yeah. So that's, that's my thoughts on it and soccer, because it just happens to be one of the easiest games in the world to play.

So the world plays it.

[00:31:14] Phil: Yeah. It's cheap. I mean, Yeah, you can make a ball at a tape. You know, you can make a ball out of socks. What I mean, like literally you can just make a ball out or whatever. And, and also it's, you know, it is that global game. So you can literally go and I have gone. Virtually every continent, not every continent, but most continents are gone and you just throw a ball on the field and you make connections.

As you talked about you go on the field and it breaks down every racial, religious, economic, whatever other divide you want to build up that we do in our, in our societies. They're gone. You go. [00:32:00]Yeah. And, and it's just, let's play a game and let's just get out there and we can, we can battle, like you said, I mean, it's that battle.

We use the, we use the military, we use the war metaphors in, in soccer in sports, right. We're going to battle, we're going to do these things and it's, that's what we can do. Yeah, absolutely. Totally agree with that. So with that, what are a couple of those lessons you've learned from the game from you know, the work you're doing as well, but, but from the game itself that you've used in your marriage, parenting other areas of your life and leadership,

[00:32:35] Aaron: I will be bluntly honest on this and please don't be disappointed.

I I've got I'm I'm I'm I'm on the autism spectrum and team sports are very, very difficult. I can see the huge value in others, but team sports are really, really difficult for me. And when I was [00:33:00]young, I didn't do well. I didn't do well. And I played, I played soccer in Canada growing up and, and I was that kid on the field who.

Just looking off into nowhere, we'll pay attention to anything. And I didn't care. I couldn't care. And when I was able to care what I cared about when I remember saying the coat saying, Hey coach, this is what I'm doing. This is, this is what I'm doing. I'm working to keep a line between me and the ball and move back and forth across.

And that's all I cared about. I can remember any good Aaron. Excellent, excellent. No, no comprehension of, of teamwork. Of of any of that. And so it was, it [00:34:00] was, I enjoyed it. Then the coaches were really good at my coaches anyway, were good at, I mean, looking back on it, I was, I was a problem kid and, and essentially useless on the field.

And I'm one of those kids who, I mean, I, yeah, anyway every coach has had one of those kids or more. But the coaches never felt, made me feel unwelcomed. Even though I didn't, I didn't fit in and I didn't, I didn't really enjoy it, but it was, it was, I was out there. I didn't feel belittled looking back on it.

There would be, there's plenty of room to feel belittled on that they succeeded well in not crushing my little heart. And honestly right now is the first time I've seen this. I've observed this. I, I haven't thought about it this way before, and it's, [00:35:00] I'm actually getting choked up. I never realized I never realized so clearly that what those coaches did for me.

And not wrecking me not hurting me. And they anyway, sorry. Sorry.

[00:35:21] Phil: I apologize. I love it.

[00:35:22] Aaron: And so, and that's something that I right now, I mean, I, I learned to say almost that's something that I've gained almost in a negative way. But I just realized that I've paid. I wasn't wrecked by good coaches. Good coaches had me out there had me having what fun I was able to have in that setting with, with thinking the way that I think my brain working, the way that it works.

And, and I didn't hate it. I didn't hate it. I didn't hate myself and I could have. And they protected me and they [00:36:00] encouraged me and they did everything that they could. And so thank you, Jesus. For those coaches, I pray that you would bless them. I pray that you would bless them. I don't remember their names, anything like that.

I remember some of their words. And that's it. So that's, that's another thing. That's, it's it's I remember how they treated me. I don't remember their names, but I remember how they, I notice that statement, people remember how they, how you treat them and that if I can remember that as I wasn't rapping.

At this late age and I'm 46 and I was, I, I didn't play it long cause I just, I had to put me in something. I was trying to find something that I could really engage in and, and it's like the voice. Yeah. The voice that a coach has. It's I can remember them. I can remember them saying to me, I can [00:37:00]remember them encouraging.

I can remember them saying to what I underst we realized now we're just really silly things, really stupid things that had nothing to do with the game that they're trying to play. I'm saying, Hey Aaron, good job. Good job. Okay. Hustle, come on, run over this way. All right, let's do this. It's yeah. All you coaches out there, all you coaches that you have that.

Hmm, you have that power me at 46 years old, maybe 38 to 40 years ago. One of you said words to me that I still remember and, and brings tears to my eyes. I see you did a good job. You did a good job. You had the power to wreck me, but you built me up. Each one of you guys has that power. It's like, man, shoot.

And you have to explore that in my, in my introspection and, and, and, and [00:38:00] work more on that. Wow.

[00:38:04] Phil: I'll tell you that, man. Go ahead. Oh, I was just going to say the, the power of that coaches, if you're, if you didn't listen to that, go back and listen. The power of that. It's it's, it's not about soccer. A lot of the times.

It's not about making the kid into the next Rinaldo or the next Messi or the next, you know, whatever it's about. Sometimes it's about not wrecking them,

but that's huge because then it's easy for us to say they can't play soccer. Let's write them off. But look at, look at this story. God has said, I'm going to use this kid. Who didn't really enjoy the game didn't really do well from a [00:39:00] soccer standpoint, but coaches were able to, you know, speak truth to the extent they could and to, to encourage.

And now, however many years later, probably nearly four decades later, you're able to use that same game to encourage other coaches to do the same thing in kids' lives, who may. Those kids may otherwise go and be completely lost to the world because of drugs, because of these other things. And we're able to give them a hope and a chance to flourish using this same game that however many years ago, who would've thought, right?

Like, I mean, seriously, normally that people go on to do the soccer ministry are people who played love the game. Where were the ones who were coaching it and playing it and doing all this. And now we're going to go use that as a tool to help others. [00:40:00] But like you said, I mean, that's not at all this story and isn't that.

I mean, I just love how that works, right? How, how, how God works in these ways that are completely upside down, like make no sense in the big picture, but make perfect sense when you look at it and you go. You know what? It probably took that for you to really truly be able to speak to some of these coaches and go look, it's not, it's not about the soccer guys.

[00:40:27] Aaron: It's

[00:40:27] Phil: not about the soccer. And I wish we could say that and know that, I mean, not say that I wish we could know that more in the suburbs, more in, you know, the inner cities of the U S of the Western world. What we see globally. You know, you want to play well, you want to win games. You want to do all these other things.

But at the end of the day, what really matters. And I mean, heck that was not like, I guess nothing to apologize for on that [00:41:00] one. I'm not disappointed at all with that answer. In fact, I think it's one of the best ones because it's, it's not only raw and real and deep, but it, it really goes to the point. It goes to the heart of what we're talking about on this show with.

Soccer's an incredible tool to teach us lessons that last, whether you play soccer for a week or you play soccer for 25, 30 years, there are lessons that you will take to life beyond soccer that are massive, and that are life changing life altering, not just for you, but for everyone you come in contact with.

So anything else to add with that?

[00:41:39] Aaron: One of the things as you're talking is that if, if they had wrecked it for me, I would have a resistance to soccer in general, and I wouldn't be able to use it. I would have an emotional resistance to it, a psychological resistance to using it now to effectively reach and minister and build up other people.[00:42:00]

And so it's, it's a, and talking about the meaning, talking about the encouragement, there is something that. It's not that or

[00:42:12] Phil: doing

[00:42:12] Aaron: really well because the physicality, the, the, the teamwork, the winning, the camaraderie, the. Aiming for excellence is part of what shapes the mind and the body and the soul.

It's not it's, it's not an, I, I know you don't mean this, but it's, it's, it's not one way or the other. It's, it's the encouragement. It's building the soul on the emotional side and all of that. And, but striving for excellence in the game. On an individual standpoint and on a team on a squad standpoint is what it does to shape the psyche, to shape the emotions, to [00:43:00] shape the, the will, to be able to go into life when it's done.

Right. When those, when those things match together, when it's done right. It creates heroes and it creates heroes. Okay. We've I've talked to the team out here and I said the, the, the, the, the coaches and, and, and such out here, and I see, we're not going to get anyone here onto the Thai national soccer team.

It's just not going to happen. Right. So what's our goal. What's our goal. So let's make, let's use this wonderful game, this exciting game, this engaging game. Let's use this wonderful game to create and foster the [00:44:00] strongest. Why is this best integrated human beings as we possibly can. They're like, yeah, let's do that.

Right. Let's

[00:44:10] Phil: do that. And that's what this game has. And I love that you said that it is, it absolutely is a both. And, and we, we talk about that too all the time in the show. It's, it's, it's gotta be a, both, and it's not an either, or it's not that you have to either choose to build character or win. No, the reality is, as I say, the dirty little secret.

The more you build character. And the more you focus on the things that matter, long-term, you know, assuming you have the talent, of course you have to have the talent, but if you have the talent, then you create healthy culture and you very, very likely will win a whole lot more games, but that's, can't be the why or else it doesn't work.

Right. That is a by-product of excellence of doing your best of giving a hundred percent. Like I talked to my son all the time there's games he goes into and he's tired. He's whatever he gets on the field. And he, [00:45:00] he looks like he's going half speed. It not only is a something you need to do for your team, but as honors God, to be able to go that a hundred percent with everything you got, and that's a life lesson too, right?

We go into our jobs and we give half, that's not honoring to anybody. That's not, that's not character. That's not integrity. That is something that is slacking. That's something that slot, that's something that's not good. And so these are all lessons that we get from this. That you see, and if you're not working together in the teamwork, if you're not collaborating, it doesn't work same way in our work.

If we're not working together, if we're not collaborating with those around us, it doesn't work. I mean, you can get some individual results in the short term, but in the long-term you're going to burn out. They're going to burn out and you're not going to get the best work you can. So those are all things that we see in sport that in particularly in this game of soccer, where it is, I mean, it's a weak link sport.

It truly [00:46:00] is a weak link sport. Like you said, if you're slacking on the right wing, the other, team's gonna expose that and there's gonna be. There's going to be issues right. And down the line. So, all right, man, we could, I know we could talk a lot longer about it, but right now we're going to tie this up.

We're going to, we're going to, we're going to bring it home with the last question we have and, and you know, just want to know what have you read, watched or listened to? That's informed your thinking of all the things we're talking about today. That's informed your thinking of how soccer explains life and leadership, how you can, how we can use these tools for the greater good

[00:46:31] Aaron: of.

It's not a, it's not directly a soccer book. It's probably the best leadership book I've ever read. And it's something that I would recommend anyone in leadership, whether CEOs or coaches or parents or pastors or anything it's called failure of nerve. The author is Edwin Friedman. The book is A Failure of Nerve [00:47:00] leadership and the subtitle is Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. Absolutely stupendous, absolutely stupendous and a core aspect of it, core aspect. And you'll be able to identify this in any leadership position is one of the things he talks about at the court is being able to identify refers to as emotional triangles, where two people have a problem.

And they're sucking you as the leader into their. And what that does is it, and you get emotionally involved in a problem. That's not your leadership problem. It's your problem to solve it. It's your responsibility to solve it, not your problem to get emotionally involved in it. And when, when the kid's not doing right out on the field it's really easy to get emotionally involved with.

And like, [00:48:00] wait, no, my emotional issues come out of any deals. Does a great job dealing with the family backgrounds of, of the emotional issues that affect leadership at a deep core level. This, Nope, these are my emotional issues they have to do with my family. They don't have to do with this kid out here.

I need to step back and look and address this from a well-differentiated. I am not the game. I am not this kid. I am not this problem. I'm on the outsider. And from that perspective, I can look at it like from Solomon's perspective So that's just one small piece of it, but it's how everything in the book fits together is just absolutely beautiful.

Easily. The most powerful book on leadership I've ever read easily.

[00:48:47] Phil: Well, that's quite the, quite the recommendation there. So, you know, with. Thanks so much. Thanks so much, Aaron, for, for being a part of this. Thanks for what you're doing. Thanks for you know, [00:49:00] not being wrecked by the game and using it in ways that are, are just incredible.

I mean, just to hear the stories into it just makes me want to hop on a plane and get out there, but of course not right now, but in a couple of years when all this stuff has gotta be. And we can, we can see the, see the benefits of it and see how it's actually looking on the ground in real life and just not on, not on paper, not in the idea side.

And so I'm very excited for that. So thanks so much, Aaron. Very much appreciate.

[00:49:32] Aaron: Thank you, Phil. I appreciate you. It's great talking to you these two times first conversation was great. This conversation is great. I love it. I look for

[00:49:41] Phil: all right, so do I, so do I will folks, I'm sure you look forward to more as well.

Thank you again for being a part of this show. Thanks for. Just all you're doing out there. I have no doubt that you guys are making a difference. If you're listening to this show, if you're learning from it, from all these great people we get to talk with. I have no doubt you're applying it to [00:50:00] the, to the, the kids or young adults or adults that you're coaching.

The people that you're leading in your organizations the different people that you're working with in your ministries, there are so many different things that we can do and, and use through the lessons we learn from this game. And I do hope that you're taking what you're learning from this show, and you're using it to help you be a better leader.

You're using it to be help you be a better spouse, a better parent. Friend and everything else that you're doing, that you're using these lessons to do that. And, and, you know, as, as we always say to in the show and I mean, it, I hope that you're taking everything that you're learning from this show and you're using it to help you to really remind yourself that soccer does explain life and leadership.

Thanks a lot. Have a great week.