nkandla-soccerBecause our time here is winding down, we’ve had to plan our service projects with the Velangaye kids for our last days in Nkandla. Today (Friday) we did our community soccer tournament, and it was utter chaos. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We grabbed high school students from two different high schools and younger kids from two different primary schools (a combination of elementary and middle school) and set up 8 teams with an elimination tournament schedule. We made certificates, bought trophies and medals and food to feed 200. The whole goal of our project was to have the high school kids and primary kids play on the same team. The High school kids could then have an opportunity to mentor the younger ones in a playful soccer setting.

The first things we learned…there is no such thing as playing soccer "just for fun" in South Africa. Unfortunately the kids (mostly the high school teams) didn’t get the idea of bonding with other members of the community -- they were 100% focussed on winning and getting that trophy. On top of that, despite having asked the primary schools to pick younger kids, not just 6th and 7th graders, we ended up with teams that were all pretty much the same age. The best was when we asked each school to include girls on their teams. They looked at us like we had completely lost it. “GIRLS and BOYS playing together?? No No No, that won’t work. We want to WIN,” they would say. Apparently it is completely unheard of for boys and girls to play soccer together. Thankfully, however, the schools somewhat came through and provided the teams with about 30% girls (which was better than nothing).

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