To be honest, I pretend I know, but I probably don’t have a clue. I have played or tried nearly every sport under the sun in my childhood quest to find something that would give me a scholarship someday. Or maybe my parents wanted me to be good at everything? I’m not really sure, but it left me a “jack of all trades, but a master of none.” From ballet to power lifting, you have bet that I have started it, and you can bet even more that I finished it even if I hated it. Mama didn’t raise no quitter.
In my mid teens to adulthood, I somehow stuck with a few sports that, I’d say, I am pretty decent at. Dance (Yes, I consider dance a sport AND an art), swimming, running, lacrosse, and yoga. Invite me to play a game of any kind and I will most definitely be in. HOWEVER, read the list above again. Do you see a trend? The ones that I stuck with are somehow not team sports. I am not exactly sure why I strayed away from the ever alluring team family mentality, but I do know that I absolutely love doing things on my own. Also, as I grow older and less able to endure exterior stressors such as 120 degree heat, my competitive spirit has dwindled. HAHAHA, got you. I sit on a throne of lies considering that without trying, life is always a competition. Don’t worry. I try to keep my fangs and claws retracted these days.
With all of this being said, can someone please tell me how I became the coach of a girls soccer team (or football as we call it here). Upon telling the wonderful human being and PCV, Peter, about our first game and how the points were 0-1, the zealous football enthusiast, through gritted teeth and deep breaths corrected me that in football, you don’t score points, you score goals. It’s ok if you want to leave me, Peter.
I don’t know a damn thing considering it has been ten years since I’ve played, but you know that I 100% waltzed up to my school one day and announced that girls needed field time like the boys and that I was going to form a girls football team. Then I googled, “How to coach a soccer team”…delete delete delete, “How to play soccer.”
Well, five months later, we still have a team and we just were able to have our first real game! I may be the worst, but I have done my research, carried out real practices, and am LOVING it. These girls must really trust me.
So, why did I even do this? Well, for one, it is fun as fun can get and GOD KNOWS I need some genuine fun in my day to day here. Isn’t work fun when it doesn’t feel like work? Yes, “girls football team” is absolutely considered work here, and I will continue to pretend like it is very hard.
Secondly, why not? Who says that just because I nearly trip and fall every time I kick a football means that I can’t get better? They say that old dogs can’t learn new tricks, not old Stephanies.
Thirdly, because these girls DO deserve field time! They deserve fun. They deserve a chance to run off some steam. You can see that they have SO MUCH FUN PLAYING.
I have made a list of why I chose to do this (partially for myself because I need the reminder that I’m not totally insane):
- FUN: My girls did not win their first game. You know what was incredible about that? As I anticipated tears and anger at our poor goal keeper who I think may have actually been sleeping, the girls had tired smiles from ear to ear, shaking hands with the other team, exchanging numbers, taking pride in only losing by one point. I have the most amazing girls, here, just shattering glass ceilings with me.
- HOLLA ATCHA GIRL WITH HIGH SELF-ESTEEM: Girls tend to have low self-esteem. That reigns true far and wide. Criticism of one’s self is so common in the female brain, mostly because it is placed there by others, unfortunately. Physical activity promotes optimism, which has a direct impact on motivation. I recently read a study where it showed that 80% of female Fortune 500 executives identified themselves as former “tomboys”.
- LIFE SKILLZ: Working with a team is an amazing way to achieve a goal mindset. Functioning as a unit is crucial in work life, community, and family life. Also, team sports foster cooperation and loyalty as well as creates lasting friendships!
- HEALTH: Of course, weight maintenance, and muscle building is an obvious positive health consequence. Exercise lowers the chance for girls to later develop osteoporosis, breast cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and more. Exercise also fosters improved mental health, allowing these girls to be able to channel frustrations of life in a constructive way.
- EDUCATION: A study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that girls who played sports had a higher GPA and lowered the dropout rate. Keeping girls in school in Kulari is a HUGE challenge, and if a football team can help, a football team you will get!
So, that’s why I do it. I may have started off clueless, but I’m not anymore. I may have started off insecure, but I am not (as much) anymore. Everything could have crashed and burned when it came to trying to break the norm, but with right people, we have managed to make girls football a permanent part of Kulari Full Cycle and Senior Secondary School. That’s pretty awesome.
Also, if you have any fun soccer drills I could use or tips, please please please shoot them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org
And while we are on the topic of sending me stuff…coffee is also welcome. Not via email, that is hehe.
Here is a collaboration of us trying to take a group picture at our last game…I’d suggest taking some time to examine the array of faces. It’s pretty great.
We have to get creative with transportation! Below is my friends team in a tractor and my host brother who, with two other boys supported the girls by driving them two at a time via motor bike!