This past May, after months of hard work, numerous risks, lots of money, and big sacrifices I made a promise to hundreds of Nigerian youth. The promise was that we would hold the Bridges Cup in Osun State, Nigeria this year.
My partner, Dickson, and I had every intention of keeping that promise and worked very hard to do just that. Unfortunately, things beyond our control started to emerge and made keeping that promise begin to look exceedingly difficult.
I started focusing on the reasons why we couldn’t make the Cup happen this year. Here was my list:
- State government funding never materialized
- Boko Haram and Chibok Girls kidnapping
- Osun State Gubernatorial election chaos
- Ebola outbreak in West Africa
- Work demands for both Dickson and me
Pretty good list, if I do say so myself. But I found myself starting to give in to this list and rationalize that these hundreds of kids would surely understand if we didn’t hold the Cup. They would survive, as they always seem to, most of them anyway.
Then it hit me.
When I formally announced the Bridges Cup six months ago to dozens of coaches, teachers, and players I wasn’t just promising hundreds of kids that my company would put on the Cup. I was unintentionally raising the bar of integrity in Nigeria. I was getting the hopes up of thousands of African kids that I would actually keep my word. In a country, an entire continent for that matter, with so many empty or broken promises I realized that if I didn’t keep my word and find a way to do this that I would be a part of this vicious cycle of big words and no action.
I simply couldn’t not do this.
With the craziness of the Osun State gubernatorial election over, Nigeria being declared “Ebola free” by the World Health Organization weeks ago Dickson and I decided we had a tight window in which we could keep our promise and do this.
Dickson’s wife is pregnant with their third child and first baby girl. She is due in about two weeks. The Nigerian Presidential elections are scheduled for early February that I am sure will prove to be even more chaotic and unsettling than the State elections were.
So, within this tight window I am thrilled (seriously I have goose bumps writing this!) to announce that I have declared the list of excuses above dead and we are doing this! The Bridges Cup actually started last week in Osun Nigeria with 30 registered teams. My wife Wendy, our photographer Travis, and I are headed to Lagos, Nigeria right now to watch the matches this Saturday and conduct an award presentation. We will then turn around and return Sunday.
Dickson has been in Nigeria since last Monday doing what he does best; organizing the many people, places, and things involved in putting on an event like this. Can’t wait to see him in Lagos in about 12 hours.
We have over 30 teams (about 500 kids) who now have the chance to participate in this inaugural Bridges Cup. We will take the matches through the semi-finals for the boys and the girls. The finals will be held in Nigeria next spring after the elections have been settled and the country has returned to normalcy and stability, insomuch as that exists in Nigeria.
As you have heard me promise hundreds of times before, the winning girls and boys teams will then make preparations to come to Utah for a week of mind-opening activities including friendly soccer matches with local teams, and visits to schools, businesses and cultural attractions in the state.
Despite the enormous challenges we have had to overcome we have been fortunate to receive some badly needed funding from two generous donors that have helped Dickson and me make the Cup happen. My new firm, RBC Wealth Management, and a former boss of mine have seen the vision of what we are trying to accomplish and stepped up. This funding is just enough to enable me to move forward to put on the Bridges Cup.
We will likely never receive the promised funding from the State but that’s OK. Once I decided that chasing down the funds was a huge waste of time, effort, and emotional capital doors have been opened and Dickson and I have become free to make this event happen on our terms. (Many thanks to my long-time friend and wise advisor, David Sessions, for helping me see the light and giving me the courage to make a hard decision to move forward without the government.)
So, here we go again…
In addition to providing hundreds of African kids the chance to show their talents and have the chance of a lifetime to come to America, we are also showing millions of adults, these kids’ parents and leaders, that integrity matters. That doing what you say you would do when it’s not easy, in fact when it’s really hard, actually matters, and that there are still people who practice and benefit from integrity.
How can I expect, or even just hope, that the youth of Africa’s most populous nation will learn integrity and choose a life of hard work, honesty, and trust if I am not willing myself to act and keep my promises?! Who else will cure the country, and maybe even the continent, of corruption and dishonesty if not the African youth?! They need this. The world needs this and I believe the youth there, with help and support from the youth in the USA can do this. It starts with just one person and it looks like that’s me. And then it’s Dickson. And then it’s the kids in Africa, then the kids here. You get the picture.
You can be a part of this very unique venture. We will be taking an exclusive group of guests to Nigeria for the finals in the spring of 2015. You will be the guests of Bridges To America and get the chance to see the Finals for yourself, while performing service in villages and orphanages. It’s not too soon to start preparations; fundraising, shots, passports/visas, etc.
Contact me if you want to be a part of this: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otherwise follow the continued journey on these pages or on Twitter and Instagram @Bridges2America
Here goes something… again!