Coaches Across Continents sharing and learning in Liberia
April 30th, 2012.Coach Brian talks about a special coaching program with the Liberian National Amputee Soccer Team:
I wanted to share a little personal “This Is Africa” story with you. For me, it is the last day of working for two weeks straight. I am tired, I haven’t had internet for more than two hours in the past week, electricity has been off and on most days, and I want to be able to sleep in past 6:00 AM – but the roosters and dogs won’t let me.
Now take a look at the photo that I posted on the CAC FB page (www.facebook.com/coachesacrosscontinents
) or the ones on this blog. This is the team that I trained today. I was very unsure of myself at the start of practice. It is the first time I have worked with an amputee team. But this team completely made my day, my week, and maybe my month. (It is too early to know if they have made my year).
This is the first team in Liberia where everyone has shown up completely on-time. Time and time again during practice I saw someone get knocked over, sometimes right on their amputated appendage (I imagine it must hurt a lot). But they had the best attitude of any group I worked with all two weeks. They did not complain, whine, or argue with each other or towards the ref during their inter-squad scrimmage. They just did their jobs and got on with it. For 90 minutes they were dedicated soccer players, and I was just another coach. They are on the team because of their hard work, their attitude towards life and their ability to play soccer.
This is a special team; the Liberian National Amputee Soccer Team. I say that they are a special team not because of their
limitations – but because of their achievements. They are Two-Time African Champions
and are headed to the World Cup in Russia in October. It is because of their attitude that they have reached the heights they have.
You never know when magic is going to happen. Hopefully there will be a special, magical moment somewhere on your trip.
Coach Addie talks about her first week in Liberia:
Liberia isn’t what I expected it to be. The vibrant colors and passion for football are engulfing. With its bustling downtown scene and ocean side football pitches, Monrovia is exceeding my standards. Coaches Across Continents’ presence among Liberian coaches, old and young, has changed my view of what a difference a week can make. The food here is intoxicating with abundant spices and rich oils, it makes you want to stay forever. And without our amazing guide, Pappie Jones, this city would not have lit up the way it did for these three American born coaches.
Week one in Liberia was productive and eye opening to say the least. Showing up on the first day, walking into the cities’ beloved stadium, I had no idea what to expect. Coaches of Liberian youth teams filtered in a half an hour late and ready to play. Each of our sessions with the coaches became more comfortable and talkative, giving us hope that our messages and lessons will be passed onto eager young footballers. Our goal of teaching the coaches through the lens of “Football for social development” was well underway and this was evidenced by their enthusiasm to help coach and show what they had learned. By the end of the week, with four trainings done, we took pictures and wished them the best in the future and the best for their footballers.
Liberia has also given me a chance to experience traditional African food. I was not able to eat in Ghana because the food was far too spicy and scary, so when our extraordinary chef, Pappie’s wife, made amazing Liberian dishes, I indulged. The culture of Monrovian people is shown through their hospitality and willingness to show us the ropes. As we ducked and dived through the Rock Spring Valley community I was blown away at the poverty and living situation of local Monrovians. When I entered Pappie’s humble, one room home, it was filled with the smell of rich palm butter and stewed goodness. Nervously I took my first bite and was blown away by the delicious dish that was prepared for us. At home I pride myself on my abilities as a chef, but I could never concoct the deliciousness that I experienced, sitting in plastic chairs inside a bedroom home. I am unbelievably grateful and excited about the chance to eat the local fare, see a local home and become grateful for everything I have, in a quick two hour adventure, with Pappie’s wife being the star of the show.
Lastly, is our guide and the head of our partner program, Soccer Ambassadors for Christ, Pappie Jones. Up until arriving in
Coaches Across Continents sharing and learning in Liberia
Liberia, I had met many people who had lived in Africa, born in Africa and other sorts of locals, but Pappie Jones encompasses the title of a local Monrovian. He is connected with so many people in the football community in Monrovia, and walking the streets of the city with him is like walking around with a mayor of a small town. Although I can hardly understand his accent, his passion for football and Christ are very clear and inspiring. He has organized over 18 sessions in the hope that our message can reach as many people as possible. Besides the football side of business, Pappie has made certain our stay in Liberia has been as comfortable as possible, as well as authentic as possible. Walking to all sorts of football pitches we have walked through community after community, taking what have become Pappie’s “famous shortcuts” through the city of Monrovia. To say the least, Pappie has made our experience exciting, productive and entertaining. We hope that he will continue our message with coaches and players long after our two weeks are over.