Friday, March 8, 2013


So, about a month ago I wandered into one of the NGOs in town to see if I could help with anything.  I met a player on a girl U-17 soccer team. I'm now an assistant coach ^_^

After a few communication issues (which involved me waking up at 6 am when I really didn't need to) I settled into practice three times a week.

It was hard at first, I'm so used to players having their own balls and cones and nets on the goals. Not to mention understanding English, but I've kinda gotten over that on at this point.  Plus, I had to constantly tell myself this was their practice and not play time for me.

Originally, the coach just had them scrimmage each other the entire practice. And then talk to them about control afterwards. But eventually we set up a system where he takes half the girls and I'll take the other half (one ball per group) and well spend time on technical skills. Aiming, traps, headers, control. And then we scrimmage.

And I'll be lying if I said don't enjoy myself on that one.

It's interesting watching them improve.  It's dropped off quickly, but I think it's because what they picked up from my modeling on the field they already have and technical skills take longer to develop. When I first played with them, they were shocked at the fact I was making runs. That I was bumping into people.  Needless to say, they're now on top of that (though putting pressure on an opponent is something we're working on) and there's one girl who throws her weight around as well as my sister did. Minus the elbows sticking out.

And oddly, I've found myself improving too in a quicker manner than I did with any of my teams at home. Knowing I'm a coach, that I have to give the girls time to practice and not just try to make good runs by myself, I'm taking the time to not just clear the ball on defense, look for more passes, and, surprisingly, using more footwork than I used to.  In addition to my coach mindset, I think a small field with no nets is helping that.  With a good goal kick, I can kick the ball out of the field. 

My U-17 team is the only girls team in town, and I think it's awesome they have this opportunity. 

I think it's good for me too. I don't feel real comfortable around guys here, so it's great to get out of the compound to have fun with girls. I don't have to be on guard, I can just be myself and have fun. I practice Amharic, they learn English, and what to do when I yell 'cross!'

But I didn't realize how much my presence meant to the girls till this week.

I skipped out last week for a variety of reasons (another PCV in town, had a bad apple the day before, super long boring school meeting in Amharic) and when I showed up at practice Monday I was greeted with exuberant faces. Every girl had to greet me with a handshake, some with a hug as well, and then they were all off and talking about a game this weekend.  They all wanted me there to watch, every one said several times where and when it was going to be, and I had to wonder if this is what my parents felt like when I told them about one event or another. You wanna go to see them perform, but also because they want you there so much.

And then, one of the girls told me she admired me.

Which is a huge shock, I don't really do anything admirable. I just kick a ball around. But I think just seeing a woman willing to stand up for herself and willing to participate in a mostly male environment (like soccer is here) is a huge benefit for them.  Plus, I'm sure the story of how I shot down a guy on the walk home two weeks ago has made the rounds. (You want to be my friend cuz I'm white? Um, no. [Note: in Amharic, there is no different word for a regular friend and a boyfriend, but it's pretty obvious which one he meant])  These poor girls get harassed all the time and culturally it's not considered a big deal.  One of the local PC staff told us during training back in PST that to many guys, 'no' doesn't mean 'no'.

It's kinda weird being someone that's looked up to. I can't really say there was someone I looked up to as a role model or anything, it was more like the common themes in stories and characters I read about.  And life philosophies.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed that we win our first game tomorrow morning!


Anonymous said...

This makes me so happy! Keep being your awesome self! <3

Anonymous said... is the team doing?

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