Daraja Children’s Choir joins together with athletes


Women’s soccer team gather for picture with Daraja Children’s Choir from Uganda before an afternoon of soccer. Photo credits: Chelsea Knaack

Between the games and singing, everyone around was grinning ear to ear in the presences of 17 children from Uganda in the Daraja Children’s Choir. The women’s soccer team was able to play soccer with the singers as well as watch them perform.

Daraja is a group of children from ages 9-13 that come to the United States from Uganda and tour across the southern region leading worship at churches, schools and other events while sharing Christian discipleship.

Ryan Spence, women’s soccer head coach, was in charge of organizing the afternoon of soccer between the two groups. Spence said he felt it was important for players to get involved in something important to his family while still getting community service hours.

“I hope it was able to show people a different side of things and allow people to see life in a different way,” Spence said. “While the players may be here to go to school, play soccer and then leave, I think it’s important that our players know there are things they can do here to set them up to be better people.”

Randi Heaton

Chelsea Knaack, women’s soccer assistant coach, said she enjoyed the afternoon of playing soccer with the children. She said watching the kids faces when they saw the players was amazing.

“It’s cool to have the kids come and see a different life that they don’t get to experience at their home especially for the girls,” Knaack said. “In Africa girls don’t get many opportunities, it was beneficial to allow them to see our players, as women and allow them to connect together.”

The second part of the event was the choir concert where the children performed for more than a hundred students and members of the community at the Colonial Church.

Sarah Stewart, chemistry junior, was among the players that attend both events. She said she gained a different view of the world seeing them come from where they came from and still being that happy and joyous.

“Seeing their raw sport come through them while they were worshiping was amazing. They were on their knees crying just because of how much they were feeling their faith and the spirit,” Stewart said. “It really made us open our eyes to their genuine happiness, carefree sprint and thankfulness. It really helped the team to see that and humble us.”


Tayler Schott, biology sophomore, with Ester, Daraja Children’s Choir member after playing soccer. Photo by Randi Heaton

Tatum Sharp, education sophomore | “All the kids brought pure joy to me, that’s for sure.”

Avery Lewis, education junior | “Something as simple as playing soccer with the kids from Daraja choir made a huge impact in my life. Each and every child was not only full of pure joy, but they have some of the most grateful heart I have ever met. Meeting these kids and hearing them sing is something I wish everyone could experience.”

Emma Ortega, nursing sophomore | “The Daraja Children’s Choir really opened my eyes to how privileged we are here. These kids have come for poor backgrounds but are filled with joy and love.”

McKenna Williams, psychology junior | “I enjoyed it because their joy is contagious. They show that no matter what hardships people have gone through, God is always the bigger and better solution.”

Tayler Schott, biology sophomore | “Playing with these kids made me realize how the small things really make a difference in life. These kids have nothing and being able to play soccer and bring them joy is the least I can do for the kids.”