L to R: Clyde Ayer, Paula Clark (Honduras national team jersey), Bernadette Ayer (both photos)
Clyde and Bernadette Ayer of Tega Cay inquired in January 2018 of their Rock Hill ARA (Area Referee Administrator) what could we, what should we do with our old referee jerseys? The idea of sending perfectly serviceable jerseys to the landfill seemed wasteful. Paula Clark, of Honduras, by way of Fort Mill, one of us, is a regular reader and responder to our Game Officials messages that the SRC sends periodically. It seemed like a natural selection. She was thrilled at the idea, was and remains, extremely, grateful for the thought and the gift.
E-mails were sent to the referees of the tri-county area and the collection effort began at local Discoveries tournaments and heavy volume, youth league weekends. The response was immediate and very generous. Shorts, socks and signal flags were, also, donated. 91 jerseys, long and short sleeve, all five (5) colors, socks, shorts, the signal flags and one large sea (duffel) bag were loaded and ready for Paula when she returned home for a short visit. Clyde and Bernadette funded the baggage cost. It was more cost effective to have the gear accompany Paula on the plane than ship separately. So, we were ecstatic that Paula returned home for a multitude of reasons! Bernadette, Clyde and Paula met, exchanged the gear and visited with one another on Friday, July 20th at the Comporium Soccer Park in Fort Mill, SC.
Paula Clark, of Fort Mill, took a huge leap of faith and ventured to Honduras to teach and evangelize in Central America. She did not and, still, does not speak (much) Spanish. Her faith, focus and perseverance have ensured her survival and success.
Paula was a youth coach in the Fort Mill/Tega Cay recreational league. She was extremely passionate at practices and matches. She was demanding and opinionated. She earned a reputation for routinely dispensing advice to her match officials. That, eventually, led to a brief ‘time out’ and, surprise, an appearance at a 2013 Grade 8 Referee Certification clinic in Rock Hill! She worked, just, as hard as an official as she did a coach. Paula represented South Carolina at a July ODP camp in 2015 and provide local referees with her brand of humor about her ODP visit. She endorses the ODP experience.
Paula’s teams are experiencing huge improvement on the field, at practices, in the ‘Win’ column and her numbers are growing. Her opportunities are multiplying. Those that know Paula will not be surprised to know she has experienced Honduran match dismissals. It was a mild occurrence and she remains friendly with her fellow referee. Paula, continually, suggests referee or team visits to Honduras.
Her mission is located in the town Pena Blanca in the Department of Cortes, Honduras. Through Futbol con Valores (Football with Values) and the Heart for Honduras Mission, Paula works, primarily with girls who are orphans and/or determined to avoid the gangs that target vulnerable Honduran youth for exploitation. She is an independent missionary. Similarly, to those original twelve apostles she travels, meets local people and relies on her message, infused with futbol, and the generosity of her new neighbors to exist and improve, both, the lives and the futures of the children in her new community. While home Paula is creating her website and Facebook page. Paula, also, relies on individual and church benefactors. She is not affiliated with any specific Christian denomination. She has red ‘Futbol con Valores’ wrist bands for distribution and fund raising, as well. Paula’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org