Contributed by: Matt Morris
During September, Baltimore Washington Eagle Gus Horsey ventured to Nairobi, Kenya where he ran several footy clinics and organised a grand final between four local teams.
This was Gus' second visit to Kenya to spread the word of Aussie Rules. Currently there are over 30 organised soccer teams in the Kibera slums, which are run by CFK. They are split up into under 12's, under 14's, and under 16's. The skill level is much higher than that of the states, therefore those eager to learn would pick up footy rather quickly. Just in the one area you could hand select over 100 people with the skill set of Freddie Adu. Gus regularly trained over 100 kids for a couple of hours after school with five soccer coaches he ‘borrowed’ to run clinics.
He left the coaches Auskick CDs and DVDs to help further some of the fundamentals and actually see how the pros play it on the screen. Without actually seeing the game played, in theory the coaches understood how to score, the importance of a mark and how the ball changes possession.
The following week it was time to put it into practice. Each coach brought two or three of their under 12's to participate. There was much awkwardness and the kids watching found it comical, but things was good because that meant that they were getting excited about the game. Later that excitement became intensity. The hand pass was the most difficult thing to convey. These guys could have easier headed the ball or kicked it without it touching the ground rather than hand pass the ball straight. The general instinct was to hold it up and wack it like a volley ball, which is probably the best way to hit the ball in your face by accident. Needless to say more time was spent on the hand pass.
Game Day was Saturday at Kibera Elementary School. Each side had at least 12 players, and they were sporting some jumpers that were donated by Gus and USFooty Kids. The pitches were relatively flat, but very little grass-cover due to the daily soccer competitions. Some kids have boots or sneakers, but for those who can't afford it, their feet are conditioned to play just as well barefoot. Very little rain made for a sometimes dusty pitch, but the kids managed to muster up some incredible footy, which drew a bit of attention. There were over 100 kids either willing to play, or just there to cheer their team on.
Jumpers were distributed to set a total of four teams and we played 25 minute halves
Unlike what happens when a lot of American adults play, there was plenty of talking going on in the field. Kids were utilizing the whole field and quickly realized the importance of a mark. It was surprising to see that the first instinct was to hand pass the ball even when their team mate was more than 10 metres away. Rather than switch to the foot, they compensated each other by positioning the other to provide better options. The red team seemed to be playing more as a team. They were the first to score, and seemed to move the ball quicker. This was due to the sharp skills of on of their forwards. The black team came back to tie it up at 12-12. During the last five minutes the black team scored the winning goal as if the red team was standing still.
The next game was cut to one 25 minute halves because the winds were picking up and a few sprinkles were touching down. Again the black team won 12-6. The majority of their team was made up by Adolis under 12's and some of Kantar's girls’ soccer team.
After the games Salim Mohammed of CFK (Carolina For Kibera -- http://cfk.unc.edu) passed out some oranges and avocados that were donated by Magoya Vegetables just for USFooty Kids. The next trip to USFooty Kids Program in Africa is tentatively scheduled for February 2005. We are in the process of trying to organize some provincial teams in South Africa. So far, one player from Nashville (John Brinker) is the only other USFooty player that has expressed an interest in running some coaching clinics there.
If you and your club are interested in donating, coaching, or even helping to organize, please contact Denis Ryan of USFooty Kids at firstname.lastname@example.org Kids will continue to play footy in our absence, but next year's goal is to hand pick a team from Kenya, and fly them to South Africa to compete in a USFooty kids Tournament.
“This is by far the most rewarding experience that I have had as a coach, because no matter who won on the field we all left the field as winners, “Gus said.
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