Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Out on the Pitch

We kicked off a new program called “Just Play” on Monday. The program is to get kids ages 6-12 playing soccer in school. Our job here at Football Federation Samoa is to train the teachers on football basics so they can deliver the program as we monitor the progress and support them when they need help. The teachers get great materials too. Not only do they get a nice book detailing 12 sessions they can run, but also four ball bags each with two balls, a ball pump, a whistle, eight bibs, four cones, and eight markers. That is an amazing amount of gear and these schools are so lucky to have this gear for the kids.

The course is two days long for each group and we have two groups of 20 teachers and 2 volunteers from a community. We also had two Peace Corps Volunteers who attended the first session. It was nice to see them come from all the way out in Savaii. They enjoyed the course and got some nice gear to take back and run the program out in the rural villages where they live.

Colin, the technical coordinator for the “Just Play” grassroots program, flew in from the Oceania Football Confederation offices to instruct the first group and we here at FFS are now instructing the second group. The course is mostly on the field, so that has been fun being outside instructing people on how to set up a small training session, how to run drills and games, as well as how to effectively run the session.

Days have been long, but seem really short since I get to knock a ball around all day (what a rough job I have this week). Some of the teachers aren’t bad players either so the program should go well.

I was very excited to start this program because it is a true grassroots effort at trying to get a solid foundation for soccer here in the islands. We have some really good players in the National League, but only three youth teams and those are all U-15 boys. So there is no youth league for girls and nothing for the young kids (unless they want to get knocked around by kids several years older). Without a solid foundation, soccer here will not succeed nor grow. So I am excited to see if this program works and stirs interest in the schools so that maybe the Federation can start some new leagues.

I’m excited about the next six weeks as well because we will be out at the schools monitoring the program and helping the teachers deliver the program if they need the help. So I get be out of the office and still be working, which is always good (I don’t do well in offices).

A shout out to the US Men’s National Team...way to finish top of the pool and move on to the next round. I don’t know where I’m going to find a tv, but I will be watching on Saturday morning. GO USA!!!!!

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