First full day of work in Nicaragua could not wait to go to sleep, and was actually nodding off during our evening round table after dinner after a full day of work in the sun. Part of our round table after dinner is to talk about the things we accomplished during the day and to talk about our goals for the next day. One of the things that was recognized on day one was how each of us mingled with the locals when they came around to see what we were doing and that we would like to organize a soccer game with the kids at the end of day #2. The plan was that we would try to organize a game at the end of our work day around 3:30. This was something that really interested me and that I was looking forward to all day.
The location that we are building the clinic at is on the school grounds so there was a lot of kids around with many kids hanging out after their school got out at 12:30. The boys that stayed around, ages 6 – 12, really wanted to get involved in what we were doing and were trying to communicate with us as much as possible. After working in the 34 degrees weather all day I was ready to get a jump on that game and call it a day. After taking off my tool belt I looked at the boys and said football, the Spanish word for soccer and the excitement that they showed was really awesome. Next thing I knew there was kids coming from everywhere and we were kicking the ball around. The kids were then looking to me to organize a game so what I resorted to was to have everyone through a shoe into the middle, this was tough to get across to everyone as I do not know Spanish so I did a lot of pointing and animating with my hands.
Once I had the 12 kids put in their shoes I through 6 to each side including mine and within 5 minutes the game was on. Wow, some of these kids could really play!! After 10 minutes two of the older boys stopped the game and were trying to tell me something, “granda” “granda”. I though they wanted to make the goals bigger because our game had some many kids now playing so I was nodding. One of the boys knew I was not understanding what he was saying so he grabbed my hand and starting leading me towards the front of the school, that’s when I grasped that they wanted a bigger playing area.
Once we got around to the front of the school we re-organized the teams because we now had over 20 kids and the game was on again. All of these kids loved to play the game even though we were not really playing in a field that I could imagine a game happening in, grass up to a foot high, cement sidewalk through the middle, and very uneven ground.
My 8 year old son plays soccer on every break at school and I would really like for him to see how these boys, who are relatively the same age as him, are able to play the game that they love not matter what they were playing on. At home we have cut grass, goal posts, new balls, and they have none of this, but still are able to play the game with passion. This was a really great way to end the work day and I am sure most of these boys will be hanging out tomorrow afternoon to have another game.