Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Anything Can Happen in Football

Many changes have been occurring at the center. The ministers have been granted their power back, and there is a forcefield of happiness from the boys that spans the center. You can read more about the root of the events here: Elena's blog

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we have been working very hard with our class on respect and listening. We know their favorite game to play is football (soccer) and that is what they've been waiting for ever since we started the class.

This week, we planned to introduce the footballs. It has been something we have been working towards for four weeks now. On monday we re-explained the game of blob tag. We explained the steps very slowly through speaking using our vocabulary words, and through acting. To our surprise, they followed almost all the rules of the game, and practically everyone was wearing a smile. Since the game went so well, we had some spare time at the end of class. We decided to set up a relay race. We made two teams and had each kid hop on one foot to the end of the basketball court and back, where they would tag the next person to go. The team that finished first were the champions!

Part way through the relay, Elena came to me with a brilliant idea. This is how we would introduce the footballs. They understood how the activity would work, and everyone would have an equal amount of time with a ball. Since we had already planned an art day on Tuesday, we would introduce the footballs on Wednesday.

Tuesday came, and we made baggies of crayons for each table. We decided that there would only be six to a table to eliminate arguing over colors. To begin we gave each table one of our vocabulary notecards that had the word in English and Kinyarwanda, accompanied by a picture describing the word. The kids were to draw their version of the word, and on the back create whatever drawing they wanted. Many of them attempted drawing the same picture that was on the cards we passed out, but they were all different colors and all unique. They also each got a sticker, which they could incorporate into their drawing, or put somewhere else. Many of them attempted to draw what was on the sticker they received. They enjoyed having the freedom to use the crayons, which they normally don't get to use on a daily basis.

Finally, Wednesday rolled around. We had to strategize how we would transport the footballs without any of the kids seeing. We had to do this because if these kids saw the balls, they would completely disregard anything coming out of our mouths. We found a small duffel bag in the volunteer room, which would fit three of the four footballs. The other one was put in my green bag, along with the cones. We transported the balls from the teacher's room to the volunteer room while the kids were still in class. We had the teachers tell the kids to meet us on the basketball court. After some planning for the store room and a quick meeting with Rafiki, we brought the bags out to the basketball court. We set up cones for four relay teams; one cone on one end, and another on the far end. We planned to do a few different relay races, so we placed extra cones on top of each first cone.

To begin, we gathered the class on a grassy patch next to the court. We waited for everyone to be quiet, and began to explain. Since we had already worked with the concept of a relay race, it was a fairly quick explanation and demonstration. In order to keep their attention, we brought out a hackie sack. The hackie sack was exciting for them, and it helped them understand the concept of waiting for the person to get back with the hackie sack before the next person could go.

We split our class into four teams. There were some even numbers, but it didn't really matter to them. The first person on each team was handed a hackie sack. I said "ready, set, GO" and blew my whistle. The race went well. We gathered the boys' attention and explained to them we are going to use footballs. You should have seen the look on their faces. I walked over to my bag and pulled out the first ball. Our class, wearing huge smiles, began clapping. Elena pulled out the other three, and they were all so excited. Some were yelling out "Ahhh thank you!!" We told them to keep good manners and we would be able to use the footballs more. They were so well behaved, it made me speechless.

After one round of down and back, I put four cones between the first and last. The boys were to dribble through the cones in control. Every one of the boys kept their smiles on for the rest of class. With fifteen minutes left before lunch, I gathered teams one and two together, and three and four together. I told teams one and two to defend one goal, and three and four to defend the other. Once again, the boys let out noises of pure happiness and excitement. The boys took off running to the football pitch. There was no order of positions or anything, but it didn't matter. I went to the middle of the pitch with one ball and kicked it straight into the air. They were off.

One boy had a whistle, and he designated himself as the referee. He called corner kicks, goal kicks, and throw-ins, but no fouls. Anything goes in this game of football. The boys traveled with the football in what seemed like a flock of geese. There was passing, but for the most part, the game was very back and forth and every man for themselves. Each team had a goal, and they were both celebrated as you see in the World Cup, or other big football matches. One of the P2 boys, Renee, celebrated with a roundoff back-handspring.
Our referee!

A corner kick that would result in a goal for team one-two

Towards the end of class, I began to wonder how to stop the game and collect the ball once again. We figured we'd blow the whistle and hope for the best. If worst came to worst, I'd be the one to chase the ball down. The time came, and I blew the whistle three times, as you would hear at the end of any football match. Everyone stopped and looked. The boy who had the ball last calmly walked over and handed me the ball, and the boys were off to lunch. Anything can happen in football.