Francisco Jesús Flores Barba is a star baseball player, and he was one of the first student athletes to participate in the Amigos for Christ Baseball Academy. He has an incredible story, marked by perseverance and determination.
One afternoon, under the blazing Nicaraguan sun, he generously shared his story with me.
Francisco grew up in a loving household with his parents and his older brother. Although the home was full of love, life was not always easy. His parents both suffer from debilitating physical disabilities. His mother struggles with a foot disability secondary to polio complications when she was a young girl, and his father had an accident that left him crippled in his left arm and leg. Both of his parents demonstrate significant difficulty walking and performing daily tasks.
However both are warriors, and they fight daily to overcome their disabilities. They have managed to raise two wonderful children, and they have done everything in their power to provide opportunities for their futures. As he grew up, Francisco’s father worked in agriculture to support his family, and now he receives financial help from his oldest son.
Francisco, although barely 14 years old, contributes by working on a nearby farm. His primary job is caring for the animals, but he offers a hand with whatever job needs to be completed. Through his work on the farm, Francisco learns valuable life skills, and he has also formed a friendship with his boss’s wife. She helps him with his homework, and she provides an additional tip that he uses for food.
For as long as he can remember, baseball has provided an outlet where Francisco could just be a kid.
Where he could run and play, free of the worry and stress that comes with work and providing for a family. Francisco remembers that when he was only 6 years old, he and his father rode their bikes over 3 kilometers to the field to practice baseball.
When he was 11, he was injured by a taxi on his way to practice and lost his upper front teeth. Immediately after recovering, he returned to practice.
Nothing could keep him away from the field.
The next year, his family moved further away from Chinandega in search of economic opportunity. Despite the distance, his parents allowed him to continue participating in the Baseball Academy. Francisco now spends his week days working and training, and he travels to Chinandega to play games on the weekends. He travels as far as he can by public bus, and then he walks the remaining 1.5 kilometers to the baseball field.
Although highly regarded as one of the best players in Chinandega, the title did not come easily...
Francisco begins his days at 5:00 AM when he wakes up to get ready for school. After school, he works on the farm until 5:30 PM. Twice a week, he manages to find time to train and practice baseball, and on Saturdays, he showcases his talents on the field, playing double headers among teammates. On Sundays, it’s back to work at the farm where he cares for the cattle and prepares for the next week when it all begins again.
Despite how difficult his life may seem, Francisco remains joyful and grateful, always wearing a smile on his face. He is thankful to God for his baseball talent, and he is eager to glorify Him by playing the game he loves. Through the Baseball Academy, Francisco has had the opportunity to play in the prestigious departmental and national tournaments
As Francisco gains recognition as one of the best center fielders in his age group, he always redirects the praise and glory to God.
As he continues on his journey as a player and a young man, he is thankful that the Amigos for Christ Baseball Academy community is walking alongside him and supporting him. With the support of his parents, the encouragement of his baseball family, and his incredible work ethic, Francisco is excited to continue striving for transformation to improve his life and that of his parents.