March 24, 2014. It has been just over a week since we first arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone. In one week we have accomplished so much. Every session we average 30-40 coaches who attend and/or participate in our training sessions. The coaches come from near and far in order to participate and they represent teams of polio, amputee, deaf, blind and female players. The coaches greet us every morning with smiling faces and really embrace the different skills and social messages that we teach. They also actively participate in our daily discussions and have helped us identify social messages that are important in their own communities.
Off the pitch, we have had the opportunity to explore the city with the assistance of our gracious and very welcoming hosts, Greatest Goal Ministries. We have had the opportunity to visit the beach, go to a Chimpanzee Sanctuary, tour the slums, and view the city from the tops of the rolling hills. After our training sessions we have also had the opportunity to observe a few of the coaches at their own practice sessions with their players.
We have witnessed first hand the transcendence of our games at these practices with children from 6 to 16 years old and both male and female teams. The children seem to really enjoy the games as the coaches have done a great job of adapting the games to fit their coaching styles. When we visit the coaches, most of the community comes out to the sessions and all the children call out to us “Allea Allea”, which means white person. Both Sophie and I have grown accustomed to this greeting and return the calls with waves and smiles.