Coaches visit Africa on a goodwill trip for soccer

March 5, 2020

Exemplifying the sportsmanship and character he instills in his players, Jets soccer coach Dan Bulley had a chance to give back in December by helping youngsters in Africa.

Bulley, the owner of Dan Bulley Soccer School and men’s soccer coach for the Jackson College Jets, traveled to Malawi in southeastern Africa. “This is something I have always wanted to do, and it fell at the right place at the right time,” Bulley said. “I have been blessed to travel through soccer, and this is the fourth continent I’ve played or coached on. But this time it was very much about giving back; it was a different experience.”

Bulley and assistant coach Adam Wright took six others, fathers and sons, to the village. Working with a group called Shine On Malawi, they brought soccer uniforms, soccer balls, and instruction. They shared their love of the game with 300 boys and girls ages 11 to 19, stirring excitement among the villagers.

“I think we were all just completely out of our comfort zone, yet comforted by the excitement and gratitude that came from the local people that overcame the challenges we had,” Bulley said. For example, the village did not have running water or plumbing, so there were no restrooms or showers. With no funds to buy soccer balls, villagers had made their own using whatever they could find. Bulley brought 300 soccer balls, one for each child in the camp.

“It was incredible. They don’t have social media or other media, things like X Boxes. They are the purest of people. We knew that the soccer balls would get much use,” he said.

Bulley hopes to continue the relationship with Malawi. He met with sports ministers and government officials while there in hopes of creating an ongoing relationship. “This summer I will be flying out a coach or two so they can continue their education and enable them to go back and teach to the children of Malawi.”