The next week we commenced our coaching programme in earnest, starting back at Kazuru, with its new pitch. Don’t get me wrong, it was still some way short of Premier League standard, in fact it would probably have been rejected for the next series of ‘One Man and His Dog’ for fear of endangering the sheepdogs, but at least the children would now be able to see each other. Furthermore, you cannot fault the children’s excitement in anticipation of our coaching and their enthusiasm at getting the pitch ready – the health and safety implications of dozens of kids coming to school with machetes notwithstanding.
When coaching, I find it extremely useful to learn the names of all the players. We figured it was also important when teaching, so we started our classroom lessons with some name games. I’m not sure how much fun this was for the pupils (they seemed to enjoy it) but for us it was unforgettable. Actually, that could even have been the name of one of them! If you want to know why we found it so entertaining, have a look at this list of Ugandan names.
The coaching was fun but tough. We realised that there was a language barrier, particularly with the younger children, so we got some help from the VU teacher trainers, Frank, Gloria and John Bosco (J.B.). We made a list of various coaching commands and they translated them into the local language, Rukiga. This was really helpful and worked extremely well – after the laughter subsided every time we said something. That’s not a sleight on our linguistic skills…I think the children were just surprised at hearing mzungus shouting ‘yiiruka’ (‘run’) at them, then ‘juba’ (‘quickly’), and depending how that went, encouraging them with a cheerful ‘wakoragye’ (‘well done’) or jokingly calling them ‘wakongora’ (‘lazy’).
Our first week at school finished on the Thursday but went well, with various Arsenal-themed Maths, English and Geography lessons being enjoyed by pupils and teachers alike. Our coaching sessions culminated with mini-tournaments for all the different classes, and at the end of the day the big grudge matches between P5 and P6 took place, with the rest of the school being let out to watch. The girls played first, then the boys, with P6 narrowly winning both. The matches were played in great spirit with everyone enjoying themselves, and for me it was particularly pleasing to see how much fun the girls had, and how keen they were to participate, presumably not normally getting the opportunity to play football.
When we came up with our timetable, we decided we could have the biggest impact by working with as many young people as possible, visiting a different school each week. I still believe this to be the best scenario, although on Thursday I questioned this – saying goodbye to the children of Kazuru, even though we’d only known them for a few days, was really tough. I dread to think how the teaching volunteers will feel when they have to leave their schools for the last time – they spend up to twelve weeks teaching the same class, so have time to get to know each of the pupils’ personalities and little quirks.
Posted on May 2, 2012, in 1. Kazuru and tagged Arsenal coaches in Africa, Arsenal coaches in Uganda, Arsenal in Africa, Arsenal in the Community, Arsenal in Uganda, football coaching in Africa, football coaching in Uganda, Kazuru, teaching volunteers, Ugandan names, volunteer in Africa, Volunteer in Uganda. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.