CAC continue our #PlayItForward partnership with Chevrolet FC and Manchester United in Yunnan Province, China.
December 14, 2015. Do you remember where you were the first time you ever played football? For many of the kids at the Huo Shan School in Yunnan Province, China, they can answer positively that their first footballing experience came this past week. As part of our continuing award-winning relationship with Chevrolet FC and their #PlayItForward initiative, we have been working at the Huo Shan school.
As experienced as Coaches Across Continents has become in our past 8 years of sport for social impact education, it is extremely rare that we come across a community that has little background in football. Towards the end of the first day after playing Circle of Friends and teaching passing skills, we set up small-sided scrimmages. For the first three minutes, not one player moved from their starting position, as they kicked the ball back and forth. Then, a light bulb went off – and a few players began chasing the ball, screaming with delight as they did so. It wasn’t long before we had a critical mass surrounding the ball, wherever it went on the school grounds, during their first-ever game of football.
Day 2 brought new revelations. As we walked inside the school gate, we could see kids practicing without their teachers the passing techniques they had learned the day before, smiling all the time, as they got better. When it came time to scrimmage, many of them came up with their own strategies on how to win the game. The most effective were the teams that elected to field three goalkeepers and two outfield players. Slowly and surely throughout the week, we continued to teach them more football skills and fill them in on a few rules – but making sure not to over-regulate their nascent love of the game.
Friday was the highlight of the week. In front of over five hundred community members, dance troops, a Chinese dragon, and the watchful eye of Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke and other dignitaries, the kids got a chance to play for the first time on their brand-new world-class field. The handover from Chevrolet FC to the Huo Shan School provided a platform for them to show everyone how much fun they were having, and learning, by playing. With this new facility, these students will have a place to pursue their love of the game.