Soccer on Sundays?

Soccer on Sundays?

Like most African boys, Lungelo Nyoni loved soccer, and he was an unusually good player. By the time he was 13, he was training with a team. His mother was a high school teacher and didn't want him to waste his time with sports, so he began sneaking out to practices. When he came home with grass in his hair, though, she figured out what was going on. She talked to the high school coach and got permission for him to play with the team, even though he wasn't in high school yet, and she became his biggest fan. 

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While Lungelo was still in high school, he got invited to play with a professional team and was chosen to be their anchor player. In order to play with the team, however, Lungelo moved away from home and attended boarding school. Just as he was returning home from boarding school for vacation, he saw two missionaries being chased by a neighbor. He felt something telling him to call to the missionaries.

In Lungelo’s words, “Little did I realize the effect my actions would have on my life. That was the beginning of my family being converted to the Church. We listened, we prayed about their message, and the very next Sunday, my entire family attended Church.

“I read the Book of Mormon, every single chapter, I prayed to know for myself, and my belief turned to a perfect knowledge that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon was true. However, because I returned to boarding school and couldn’t attend sacrament meetings there, I wasn’t baptized with my family.”

After he finished high school, Lungelo took the lessons from the missionaries again and was baptized in 2011. He continued playing professional soccer until a returned missionary friend told him about keeping the Sabbath Day holy.  With great faith, he told his team he would play every day of the week except Sunday. He reports, “It wasn’t easy, but it was something I had to do because it was not from my friend but was a commandment of the Lord.”

When he was playing with the team, the team won, but when he wasn't there on Sundays, they lost. So the coach suspended him. Then the team lost every game for a long time, so the coach said if he would come back, Lungelo wouldn't have to play on Sunday.

Eventually, his coach informed him that the National Soccer Team of Swaziland wanted him to play for them. He reported to their first training and told them he couldn't play because he was leaving the country to serve a mission in Uganda. Besides, the team trained on Sundays, and Elder Nyoni knew that wouldn't work for him.

Elder Nyoni is now serving the Lord in Uganda, honoring the Sabbath Day, and looking for a new career after his mission.