May 26th, 2012. A Tale of Two Successes
Last week Coaches Across Continents worked for the third consecutive year in Buwate, Uganda, headed by former Ugandan International Kato Richard Ssebunya. But during the week, it was two other people who stood out for different reasons. On the very first day working with Richard’s players in Buwate, we met an extremely shy kid named Francis. He spoke so quietly that we could barely understand him when we asked for his name. Even though he was a young boy of maybe twelve, he showed none of the bravado of most boys his age. Then without our knowledge and despite his young age, he adopted us and appointed himself a coach. For the next week Francis came to every session where we trained the older coaches, participating fully. By the end of the week, he was confidently shouting instructions to older coaches and demonstrating during every skill and game. We have no doubt that Francis will be a great future leader in Buwate.
At the other end of the spectrum was Muhammed. In the beginning of the week, all he could talk about were his
two players that made the national team. It seemed that those were the only two players he cared about. He confidently proclaimed himself the best coach in Uganda. In case you couldn’t tell, Muhammed was not shy at all. His development was outstanding, and by the end he had completely bought into our messages of social development for all players – not just his very best. After one session, he told Coach Lauren how grateful he was for our work. When he was younger, he said, there was no one to teach him these important messages about leadership, voice, conflict resolution, and HIV prevention. He assured us that he would take care to spread these messages to all of his 170 players. His development impressed all of us. He learned so much in one week, and we are confident that the players in his academy will continue to benefit from his hard work.
Francis and Muhammed showed us, in two very different ways, the power of football. It allowed one person to find his voice and show great promise as a future leader for his country. On the other end of the spectrum, it opened the eyes of an already accomplished coach.
Soccer can be used to help everyone – not just those who show the best promise of reaching the top level.